Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement

  • 95%
  • Implementation Score 
    after 10 years
Provisions in this Accord
Cease Fire

Annex B: Review of the Criminal Justice System

Prisoners

2. Prisoners affiliated to organisations which have not established or are not maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire will not benefit from the arrangements. The situation in this regard will be kept under review.

Implementation History
1997

Intermediate Implementation

The ceasefire was announced in July of 1997, there was no report of ceasefire violation that year and peace talks continued.

1998

Full Implementation

Various groups violated the ceasefire in 1998. In January 1998, the peace talks nearly collapsed as the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) admitted its involvement in the killings of three Catholics, and thus its violation of the ceasefire. Following this admission, the UFF called off its campaign against killings of Catholics.3 Talks continued and the parties reached a final settlement and signed a comprehensive peace agreement on 10 April 1998.

Following the peace agreement, the Loyalist Volunteer Force – a Protestant paramilitary group in Northern Ireland – announced an “unequivocal” ceasefire before the referendum and campaigned for a no vote.4 After the referendum that took place on 22 May 1998, the hardliner republican group named the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA), a breakaway faction of the IRA, exploded a bomb in the town of Omagh, 55 miles west of Belfast, on 15 August 1998. In the attack, 28 people were killed and more than 200 were wounded.5 Immediately after the bombing, the RIRA apologized and called for a ceasefire.6

In August, the Irish Republican Socialist Party affiliated with the paramilitary group Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced a ceasefire, and thus an end to its 23 years of violence. Nevertheless, the group continued to oppose the peace agreement signed in April.7 The ceasefire was held for the rest of the year.

  • 3. “Protestant militia admits it broke ceasefire in Northern Ireland,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, January 23, 1998.
  • 4. “LVF Put Down Guns and Join 'No' Campaign,” Daily Record, May 16, 1998.
  • 5. “Bomb in Ulster, Exploding Among Shoppers, Kills 28,” New York Times, August 15, 1998.
  • 6. “Premiers Pray that Massacre Signals End of Troubles,” The Mirror, August 24, 1998.
  • 7. “Northern Ireland Terrorist Group Announces Ceasefire,” BBC, August 22, 1998.
1999

Full Implementation

While sporadic violence was carried out against IRA members and by the IRA itself, the ceasefire held.

2000

Full Implementation

Throughout the year, the major paramilitary groups from both sides respected the ceasefire. A dissident paramilitary group, the Continuity IRA, exploded a bomb at Mahon’s Hotel in Irvinestown on 7 February 2000.8 Splinter groups who opposed the peace agreement were posing a threat to the peace in Northern Ireland.9

  • 8. “Northern Ireland leaders condemn bomb attack, renew peace efforts,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 7, 2000.
  • 9. “Two Arrested in Northern Ireland Bomb Attack,” Toronto Star, February 26, 2000.[/fn]
2001

Full Implementation

No ceasefire violation was reported. 

2002

Full Implementation

No ceasefire violation was reported. 

2003

Full Implementation

No ceasefire violation was reported. 

2004

Full Implementation

No ceasefire violation was reported in 2001. However, there was a report that the security official had found a bomb-making factory in Starbane and arrested four dissident Irish republican members.10 There was also a report that the British Army had diffused a bomb in November, which was believed to be implanted by the breakaway faction of the IRA.11

  • 10. “World Briefing Europe: Northern Ireland Police Report Bomb Factory,” New York Times, April 30, 2004.
  • 11. “World Briefing Europe: Northern Ireland: Bombs Defused,” New York Times, November 26, 2004.
2005

Full Implementation

There were no reports of ceasefire. 

2006

Full Implementation

There were no reports of ceasefire. 

2007

Full Implementation

There were no reports of ceasefire. 

Powersharing Transitional Government

The Assembly

4. The Assembly - operating where appropriate on a cross-community basis - will be the prime source of authority in respect of all devolved responsibilities.

Safeguards

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

The principle of power-sharing was built into the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The D’Hondt method of Proportional Representation was used to ensure that the Unionist (mainly Protestant) and Nationalist (mainly Catholic) communities participated in government in proportion to the seats they won in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. Members of the Assembly were elected by single transferable vote. If the main parties failed to reach an agreement on power-sharing, power would return to London, a situation none of the parties wanted.

As part of the Good Friday Agreement, a new power-sharing Assembly for Northern Ireland was elected on 25 June 1998. In the 108-member Assembly, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) won 24 seats, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) won 28 seats, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) won 20 seats, and Sinn Fein won 18 seats. Through cross-community support, David Trimble from the UUP (representing the Unionist community) was elected First Minister and Séamus Mallon from SDLP (representing the Nationalist community) was elected Deputy-First Minister on 1 July 1998.1

As of December 1998, the Minister posts in the Northern Ireland Executive were not fulfilled.

1999

Full Implementation

Power-sharing in the Assembly remained in place. On 29 November 1999, Ministers of Northern Ireland’s Executive branch were appointed. UUP had three Ministers, SDLP had three Ministers, DUP had two Ministers, and Sinn Fein had two Ministers.2 The committee members were also appointed on 29 November 1999, based on the power-sharing provision of the Good Friday Agreement.3

2000

Full Implementation

Power-sharing was in place, despite a brief pause. Northern Ireland’s power-sharing Assembly and Executive were suspended between 12 February and 30 May amidst tension related to the decommissioning of weapons.4 The Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson, had told the House of Commons of his intention to suspend the Northern Ireland Assembly, which he did on 12 February. After the Irish Republican Army (IRA) demonstrated its commitment to decommissioning its weapons and to international verification, the power-sharing Assembly and the Executive were restored on the 30th of May.5

2001

Full Implementation

The power-sharing Assembly and Executive were suspended for 24 hours, on 11 August 2001 and on 22 September 2001. The first suspension was related to the decommissioning of IRA weapons. The second suspension in September happened after a failure to resolve the deadlock on the decommissioning-of-weapons issue and the reinstatement of First Minister David Trimble, who resigned on 1 July 2001.6

2002

Full Implementation

Power-sharing continued until October 15. Because the disarming provision in the agreement was not implemented, the DUP tabled a motion for the exclusion of Sinn Fein from government. Nationalists were arguing that they would not disarm under the terms set by unionists and for this reason, confidence between the unionists and the nationalists collapsed, leading to the suspension of the Assembly and the Executive starting from 15 October 2002.

2003

Minimum Implementation

Power sharing is suspended. 

2004

Minimum Implementation

Power sharing is suspended. 

2005

Minimum Implementation

Power sharing is suspended. 

2006

Minimum Implementation

Suspension of power-sharing continued until 24 November 2006, when a transitional assembly was installed.7

2007

Full Implementation

On 7 March 2007, Northern Ireland elected a new 108-member assembly in which the DUP won 36 seats and the Sinn Fein won 28 seats. On 8 May 2007, DUP leader Ian Paisley was sworn in as First Minister and Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness was sworn in as Deputy-First Minister. Power-sharing has continued in Northern Ireland since May 2007.8

Constitutional Reform

Constitutional Issues: Annex A and B:

1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

After the Good Friday Agreement, the government of the Republic of Ireland passed the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Act (1998) on 3 June 1998 as required by the Good Friday Agreement.1 Similarly, the British Government repealed the Government of Ireland Act (1920) in November 1998. The Northern Ireland Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 15 July 1998 and the bill had the third reading in the House of Lords on 17 November. The bill received the royal assent on 19 November 1998.2

After the constitutional amendment from the side of the Republic of Ireland and the enactment of the Northern Ireland Act (1998), the changes sought from the constitutional reform finally took effect on 1 December 1999. The Good Friday Agreement required the establishment of Northern Ireland’s Executive for this provision to go into effect.3

  • 1. “Constitution of Ireland,” Department of the Taoiseach, accessed January 21, 2013
  • 2. “Northern Ireland Bill Receives Royal Assent,” Hermes Database, November 19, 1998.
  • 3. “The Good Friday Agreement - Constitutional Issues,” BBC News, May 2006, accessed January 21, 2013.
1999

Full Implementation

Constitutional Reforms took place in 1998.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2008

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Inter-ethnic/State Relations

Strand One: Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland

Safeguards

5. There will be safeguards to ensure that all sections of the community can participate and work together successfully in the operation of these institutions and that all sections of the community are protected, including:

(a) allocations of Committee Chairs, Ministers and Committee membership in proportion to party strengths;

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

To promote inter-ethnic cooperation and strengthen the relationship between Northern Ireland and Britain, provisions of the cross-community voting to elect the first and deputy first ministers, sharing ministerial positions among parties based on the D’Hondt method of Proportional Representation, legislation to prove the guarantee of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and any Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland, the establishment of Human Rights Commission, Equality Commission and the establishment of a consultative Civic Forum are provided in the Good Friday Agreement.

The election of Northern Ireland Assembly took place in June 1998 based on the D’Hondt method of Proportional Representation and the First Minister, Deputy First Minster and Ministers in Northern Ireland Executive were elected based on proportional representation in November 1998.1

1999

Intermediate Implementation

Regarding the guarantee of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in Northern Ireland, the ECHR has been effective since 2 December 1999, after the establishment of Northern Ireland Executive on 29 November 1999.2 The Northern Ireland Act of 1998 has provided for the establishment of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the commission finally came into existence on 1 March 1999.3 The Northern Ireland Act 1998 also provided for the establishment of Equality Commission which became operational on 1 September 1999.4

2000

Intermediate Implementation

 The Good Friday Agreement provided for the establishment of Civic Forum as a consultative mechanism on social, economic and cultural issues and this form was to be representative of the business, trade union and voluntary sectors, and such other sectors as agreed by the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. The forum offers its view on social, economic and cultural issues but its views are not binding. The Northern Ireland Act 1998 has provided for the establishment of the Civic Forum. The First and Deputy First Ministers announced the membership of the forum on 25 September 2000 with Chris Gibson as a chairperson of the 60 member forum.5 The forum met for the first time on 9 October 2000. After the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Executive, the Civic Forum has not been reactivated. The intention of the First Minister and the deputy First Minister to launch a public consultation similar to Civic Forum did not happen.6

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

Electoral/Political Party Reform

Strand One: Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland

The Assembly

2. A 108-member Assembly will be elected by PR (STV) from existing Westminster constituencies.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Before the Good Friday Agreement in 2008, elections of the Northern Ireland Assembly were held based on the Proportional Representation Single Transferable Vote or PR (STV) electoral system. As a matter of fact, Northern Ireland had this electoral system in place since 1985, the year in which the 1962 Election Lat Act (Part 4 of Schedule 1) was changed to a PR (STV) electoral system in the local elections.1 The Northern Ireland Act (1998), which was enacted as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, reaffirmed the existing PR (STV) electoral system for the election of members of the new Northern Ireland Assembly.2 The 1998 elections were held based on a PR (STV) electoral system.

1999

Full Implementation

The 1998 Act maintained the PR(STV) electoral system in Northern Ireland. Elections were held in 2007 based on this electoral system.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Decentralization/Federalism

Strand One Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland

1. This agreement provides for a democratically elected Assembly in Northern Ireland which is inclusive in its membership, capable of exercising executive and legislative authority, and subject to safeguards to protect the rights and interests of all sides of the community.

The Assembly

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement provided for a 108-member elected assembly in Northern Ireland. The assembly would be capable of exercising executive and legislative authority, and subject to safeguards to protect the rights and interests of all sides of the community. According to the accord, the assembly was to be elected by using the Proportional Representative Single Transferable Vote system. In spirit of safeguarding the interest and rights of all sides, the agreement also called for the proportional distribution of committee members in the assembly.

According to the Good Friday Agreement, a First Minister, Deputy First Minister, and up to ten Ministers with departmental responsibilities would discharge the executive authority of the assembly. The selection was based on the d’Hondt system, giving more weight to the largest party in the assembly.

Along with giving legislative and executive authority to the assembly, the Good Friday Agreement also gave power to the Secretary of State to represent Northern Ireland’s interests in the United Kingdom Cabinet and make sure that the United Kingdom’s international obligations are met with respect to Northern Ireland.

So far as the implementation of the decentralization provision in the Good Friday Agreement is concerned, the Northern Ireland Bill, which was introduced in the House of Commons on 15 July 1998, dealt with all aspects of the devolution of power to the assembly in Northern Ireland. The bill had the third reading in the House of Lords on 17 November and got the royal assent on 19 November 1998.1

It is also important to note, considering the transitional arrangements in the agreement, that elections for the assembly took place in July 1998, well before the enactment of the Northern Ireland Bill.

  • 1. “Northern Ireland Bill Receives Royal Assent,” Hermes Database, November 19, 1998.
1999

Full Implementation

As agreed upon in the Good Friday Agreement, the assembly was elected in 1998. However, it was not until 29 November 1999 that Northern Ireland’s Executive was appointed, based on the strength of the parties in the assembly. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) had three ministers, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had three ministers, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had two ministers, and Sinn Fein had two ministers.2 The committee members were also appointed on 29 November 1999 based on the power-sharing provision of the Good Friday Agreement.3

Thus, the decentralization provision of the accord was implemented in 1998.

2000

Full Implementation

While the United Kingdom’s commitment to Northern Ireland’s devolution status remained in place, for issues related to weapon decommissioning, the assembly and executive of Northern Ireland were suspended on 11 February 2000 and restored on 22 May 2000. 

2001

Full Implementation

The assembly and executive of Northern Ireland were suspended again for 24 hours on 11 August 2001 and 22 September 2001, as recommended by the Secretary of State.4

  • 4. “Northern Ireland chronology: 2001,” BBC News, April 9, 2003, February 21, 2013,
2002

Minimum Implementation

The assembly and the executive were suspended again on 15 October 2002. 

2003

Minimum Implementation

The assembly and the executive were suspended. 

2004

Minimum Implementation

The assembly and the executive were suspended.

2005

Minimum Implementation

The assembly and the executive were suspended.

2006

Minimum Implementation

On 24 November 2006, a transitional assembly was installed.

2007

Full Implementation

On 7 March 2007, Northern Ireland elected a new assembly.5

Dispute Resolution Committee

Dispute Resolution Committee Strand One Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland

The Assembly: 28. Disputes over legislative competence will be decided by the Courts.

Strand Three British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference

Implementation History
1998

No Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement provided that the Courts decide on disputes related to the legislative competence of the Northern Ireland Assembly. This provision (Article 11 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998)) was adopted and went into effect on 19 November 1998. There was no record of dispute regarding the legislative competence of Northern Ireland’s Legislative Assembly.

The Good Friday Agreement, in recognition of the special interest of the Government in Northern Ireland and mutual concern on issues related to Northern Ireland, provided for the establishment of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. The accords provided for the representation of Northern Ireland by invitation. The Northern Ireland Act (1998), in Article 54 (1 and 2), provided for the establishment of the conference with the provision that the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, acting jointly, would ensure cross-community attendance at the meeting.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, however, was not established in 1998.

1999

Full Implementation

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was inaugurated on 17 December 1999. The inaugural meeting took place at Downing Street, which was chaired by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Irish and UK government and representatives of the Northern Ireland’s executive.1

2000

Full Implementation

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference had continuously met since its inauguration in 1999.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Judiciary Reform

Strand Three: Policing and Justice

4. The participants believe that the aims of the criminal justice system are to:

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

As provided for in the Good Friday Agreement and the Terms of Reference in Annex B, the review group, comprised of four civil servants representing the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Lord Chancellor, the Attorney General, and five independent assessors, was formed. The review group had its first meeting on 1 July 1998 and published a consultation paper on 27 August 1998, distributing copies of this paper to political parties, individual politicians, churches, the judiciary, and a range of voluntary and community organizations with an interest in this issue. The group reviewed the criminal justice system over the past 30 years in Northern Ireland, reviewed recent changes in the legislations, and visited the Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, and the US to examine how other jurisdictions deliver criminal justice.1

1999

Minimum Implementation

The review group published a progress report in April 1999. After the progress report, the group held a series of nine seminars across Northern Ireland between May and June 1999 in which more than 3,000 individuals, groups, and organizations were invited for their feedback.

2000

Minimum Implementation

The review group published a report on 30 March 2000. In its 447-page review of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland, the group made 294 recommendations on issues related to human rights, prosecution, courts, the judiciary, victims and wetness, and law reform, among others. These recommendations were also related to the establishment of an independent commission to oversee the appointment of judges, the integration of restorative justice into the judicial system, and the devolution of the criminal justice system to the Northern Ireland Assembly.2

  • 2. “Criminal Justice System Review Report."
2001

Minimum Implementation

The government was slow to respond to the review group’s report. Therefore, the nationalists and the republicans called for an immediate implementation of the report. This created pressure and on 12 November 2001, the government published its implementation plan for the criminal justice review and a draft justice bill. The proposed justice draft bill, however, did not materialize between 2001 and 2008.

2002

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year.

Almost a decade after the signing the Belfast Agreement (i.e., the Good Friday Agreement) and constant insistence from Sinn Fein on the unconditional transfer of police and judicial powers to Northern Ireland, on 4 February 2010, the hardliner Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein voted to approve a deal that paved the way for the transfer of judicial and policing powers.3 The deal would allow the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointment Commission (NIJAC) to select and appoint, or recommend for appointment, applicants for all listed judicial offices, up to and including High Court Judge. 

  • 3. “Northern Ireland,” Keesing's Record of World Events, 56 (March 2010): 49754.
Police Reform

Strand Three Policing and Justice

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

The Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland also known as the Patten Commission began work shortly after its establishment on 3 June 3, 1998. Chris Patten chaired the eight-member Independent Commission. The commission’s main responsibility was to carry out a fundamental review of the overwhelmingly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and recommend proposals for a new policing service that is “professional, effective and efficient, fair and impartial, free from partisan political control; accountable, both under the law for its actions and to the community it serves; representative of the society it polices, and operates within a coherent and cooperative criminal justice system, which conforms with human rights norms.” The commission organized a number of public and private meetings with youth groups. Estimated 10,000 people attended the public meetings with over 1,000 speaking. The commission also received more than approximately 2,500 individual written submission.1

1999

Minimum Implementation

In May/June 1999 the commission carried out a public opinion survey to understand public attitudes regarding policing in Northern Ireland. The commission also visited various places including a number of police services in Great Britain, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. On 9 September 1999, the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland submitted its report and made recommendations on issues related to human rights, accountability, policing with the community, structure of the police force, size of the police service, composition of the police service, and other issues. The commission made 175 recommendations.2 The unionist political reactions to the report and its recommendations were not positive.3

2000

Minimum Implementation

As per the recommendation of the commission, an Oversight Commissioner was appointed in May 2000. The government published the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill on 16 May 2000, which was criticized by the SDLP and Sinn Fein. Amendments were made in the bill to address some of SDLP and Sinn Fein’s concerns to get their support for the Bill. The Bill received the Royal Assent on 23 November 2000. 

2001

Minimum Implementation

Regarding implementation of the Patten Commission’s recommendations, Secretary of State John Reid published a 75-page long policing plan on 17 August 2001. The plan detailed progress made in areas of Ombudsman, appointment of an Oversight Commissioner, reduction in the police size as well as selecting new recruits on a 50:50 basis. A new Policing Board was set up in September. On 4 November 2001, Royal Ulster Constabulary changed its name to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. On 12 December, the Police Board also changed a badge for the new service and emblem.4

2002

Intermediate Implementation

Significant progress was made in terms of implementing Patten Commission’s recommendations. The first batch of recruits to the Police Service of Northern Ireland graduated in April 2002.5 Nevertheless, it was reported that some Catholic recruits received “actual intimidation.” Other reforms such as community policing and overhauling Special Branch lagged behind in terms of their implementation as suggested by Oversight Commissioner, Tom Constantine. Therefore, Britain revealed plans for increased police reform in November 2002.6

  • 5. "First recruits to new Northern Ireland police graduate amid political bickering", Associated Press, April 5, 2002.
  • 6. "Britain reveals plans for increased police reforms in Northern Ireland", Associated Press Worldstream, November 25, 2002.
2003

Full Implementation

A revised police act received a royal assent on 8 April 2003. In his detailed report, Oversight Commissioner Tom Constantine detailed progress s on 175 recommendations of the Patten Commission and suggested that most of the goals had been achieved, including the adoption of a new name, badges and uniforms.7

  • 7. "Northern Ireland police reform making 'excellent progress,' U.S. overseer says", Associated Press, December 10, 2003.
2004

Full Implementation

While substantial police reform was achieved after the Patten Commission and its recommendations, Sinn Fein boycotted police reform with allegation of a significant gap between the original 1999 reform plan and the action taken by the British Government.8

  • 8. "Sinn Fein slowing Northern Ireland police reform, Canadian overseer says", Associated Press, April 27, 2004.
2005

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Full Implementation

Sinn Fein had demanded for the prompt and unconditional transfer of power to Northern Ireland. In February 2010 the hardliner Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein reached a deal and voted unanimously to approve a devolution bill that paved the way for the transfer of judicial and policing powers.9 A 13,000 strong police force is now reduced to 7,050 as of 2012 of which 30.41 % are Roman Catholic and 67.36% are Protestant. Also, the new police force contains 26.82% female officers.10

Demobilization

Strand Three Security

1. The participants note that the development of a peaceful environment on the basis of this agreement can and should mean a normalisation of security arrangements and practices.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

In the Good Friday Agreement, the British government committed to reduce the number and role of the armed forces deployed in Northern Ireland, as well as to the removal of security installations and emergency powers in Northern Ireland. At the time of signing the peace agreement in April, an estimated 17,200 British troops were deployed, which increased by 800 during Northern Ireland's marching season in July.1 The size of the troops, however, was reduced to 15,000 by the end of the year.2 Demobilization of more British troops from Northern Ireland, however, was contingent on the improvement of the security situation in Northern Ireland. It was reported that routine military patrolling decreased substantially and many security and observation posts were vacated since the signing of the accord.3

1999

Minimum Implementation

No significant progress was reported regarding the demobilization of British troops in 1999. An estimated 15,000 British troops remained in Northern Ireland. In December 1999, however, the British government announced that it would publish a policy paper outlining the decommissioning of the IRA’s weapons and the demobilization of British troops in Northern Ireland.4

  • 4. “Shadow of gunmen hangs over Northern Ireland's new government,” The Associated Press, December 3, 1999.
2000

Minimum Implementation

Since the agreement in 1998, it was reported that some meaningful progress on demobilization and demilitarization had been achieved: 26 base camps were either closed or demolished, the number of army patrols decreased by one-third, and more than 3,000 British troops were demobilized or withdrawn.5 Despite this success, about 2,000 extra British troops were sent to Northern Ireland to boost security during marches in the summer.6

  • 5. “Dublin Calls for Soldiers to Start Pulling out of Northern Ireland,” The Scotsman, March 10, 2000.
  • 6. “More troops going to Northern Ireland,” The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 28, 2000.
2001

Minimum Implementation

While an extra 1,600 British troops were deployed to support the policing of the Protestant Orange Order march,7 there was an announcement in the British parliament that the British army would dismantle four security installations in Northern Ireland following the IRA’s decision to begin disarmament.8

  • 7. “Extra 1,600 British troops to cope with Northern Ireland unrest,” Agence France Presse, June 22, 2001.
  • 8. “Britain to cut forces in Northern Ireland after IRA arms move,” Agence France Presse, October 24, 2001.
2002

Minimum Implementation

Issues related to the disarmament of the IRA and demobilization of British troops contributed to the suspension of Northern Ireland’s Assembly and Executive.

2003

Minimum Implementation

Issues related to the disarmament of the IRA and demobilization of British troops contributed to the suspension of Northern Ireland’s Assembly and Executive. 

2004

Minimum Implementation

Issues related to the disarmament of the IRA and demobilization of British troops contributed to the suspension of Northern Ireland’s Assembly and Executive. 

2005

Minimum Implementation

The British government announced its plan to reduce the troops in Northern Ireland in December 2005 by making the total strength less than 9,000 soldiers.9

  • 9. “Britain reduces troop numbers in Northern Ireland,” Agence France Presse, December 6, 2005.
2006

Minimum Implementation

No developments observed this year. 

2007

Full Implementation

The British Army suspended its operation in Northern Ireland starting on 1 August 2007, thus ending a 38-year presence in Northern Ireland. The move reduced the size of the British troops to 5,000, which was compatible with a normal peaceful society as suggested in the peace agreement.10 The Independent Monitoring Commission also confirmed the cutbacks in British troops in Northern Ireland.11

  • 10. “British Army Exits Northern Ireland,” National Public Radio (NPR), August 1, 2007.
  • 11. “Experts present final report on British military cuts in Northern Ireland,” Associated Press, September 13, 2007.
Disarmament

Disarmament: Strand Three

Decommissioning

1. Participants recall their agreement in the Procedural Motion adopted on 24 September 1997 "that the resolution of the decommissioning issue is an indispensable part of the process of negotiation", and also recall the provisions of paragraph 25 of Strand 1 above.

Implementation History
1998

No Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement provided for the establishment of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to monitor, review, and verify the total disarmament of all paramilitary organizations. The deadline for completing the disarmament was May 2000. The Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act (1997), which received Royal Assent on 27 February 1997, had a provision in Article 7 for the establishment of an independent decommissioning commission. The act was enacted before the accord was signed in 1998. Therefore, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was already established when the accord was signed and was headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.1 The disarmament, however, did not start in 1998. The Unionists and the Republicans differed on the interpretation of the wording on decommission as the Republicans claimed that they had no formal links with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and therefore were not in a position to influence the IRA. The decommissioning issue delayed the formation of the power-sharing executive: David Trimble from the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) refused to form the government after the July 1998 elections,2 and so decommissioning did not begin in 1998.

1999

No Implementation

The decommissioning did not begin in 1999. After the Hillsborough Declaration of 1 April 1999, efforts to break the stalemate and propose a date for the removal of paramilitary weapons failed. As the process stalled, the government asked Senator George Mitchell to review the peace process. In his report, Mitchell concluded that "devolution should take effect, then the Executive should meet, and then the paramilitary groups should appoint their authorised representatives, all on the same day, in that order".3 Power was devolved in Northern Ireland, the executive was set up, and authorized representatives were appointed on 2 December 1999. In December, the commission had separate talks with representatives of the IRA, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and the Red Hand Commando (RHC).4

  • 3. “Mitchell bows out leaving basis for peace,” The Guardian, November 18, 1999.
  • 4. “Northern Ireland paramilitaries will disarm, says De Chastelain,” Agence France Presse, December 10, 1999.
2000

No Implementation

Because no progress was made in terms of decommissioning weapons, the Assembly and the Executive were suspended on 11 February. After protracted negotiations, the IRA allowed two international arms inspectors, the former African National Congress (ANC) negotiator, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, to check that weapons were “completely and verifiably” beyond use.5 For the first time, the IRA opened its weapon caches for two international monitors. In their two-page long report to the IICD, the observers said that they observed that the “weapons and explosive were safely and adequately stored”.6

  • 5. “Disarming Northern Ireland,” Washington Time, May 9, 2000.
  • 6. “Arms inspectors verify IRA arsenal out of use,” The Globe and Mail (Canada), June 27, 2000.
2001

Minimum Implementation

While the IRA seemed committed to decommissioning their weapons, the Unionists were not satisfied. On 1 June 2001, David Trimble resigned as the First Minister. Also, three IRA suspects were arrested in Colombia for allegedly assisting FARC guerrillas. Under tremendous pressure, the IRA announced on 23 October that they had begun a process of putting arms beyond use. Verification of this by the IICD did not satisfy all Unionists, however.7

  • 7. “The Good Friday Agreement – Decommissioning.”
2002

Minimum Implementation

After the arrest of IRA suspects in 2001, the 1997 Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act was amended and legally required the Loyalist and Republican groups to put their weapons beyond use under the supervision of the IICD. The amendment was passed on 26 February 2002. The amendment extended the deadline for decommissioning until 27 February 2003 and contained a provision for its annual extension until 2007.8

2003

Minimum Implementation

According to IICD chairman John de Chastelain, considerably large amounts of machine guns, explosives, and detonators were destroyed in October. Nevertheless, the Unionist leader John Trimble maintained that a clear, transparent report of major acts was needed.9 Transparency in decommissioning dominated the peace process in Northern Ireland.

  • 9. “Destruction of some IRA weapons fails to defuse distrust,” The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec), October 22, 2003.
2004

Minimum Implementation

Transparency in the Decommissioning Act dominated the peace process throughout 2004. The Unionists maintained that they would only accept actual decommissioning as the way forward in the peace process.10 The IRA, however, maintained that visual proof of decommissioning was impossible, as it was a humiliating demand.11

  • 10. “Northern Ireland's Sinn Fein calls on Unionist party to clarify position,” BBC News, August 10, 2004.
  • 11. “Northern Ireland set for peace deal,” Sunday Herald, December 12, 2004.
2005

Full Implementation

Significant achievement was made after the IRA announced in July that it had ceased its armed struggle and would “dump arms” in favor of democratic means. According to security estimates, the IRA possessed the following weaponry: 1,000 rifles, 2 tonnes of Semtex, 20-30 heavy machine guns, 7 Surface-to-air missiles (unused), 7 flame throwers, 1,200 detonators, 11 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 90 hand guns, and 100+ grenades. On September 26, 2005 the IICD was reported to have verified and decommissioned the weaponry.12 According to IICD chairman General John de Chastelain, two churchmen had witnessed the decommissioning process. The IICD had observed and verified events that put very large quantities of arms beyond use, which the commission believed included all arms in the IRA’s possession.13 The British Prime Minister remarked that the act was “an important step in the transition from conflict to peace in Northern Ireland” and the Irish Prime Minister said that the act was a “landmark development”. Nevertheless, the Unionists were unhappy because there was no photographic evidence.14

2006

Full Implementation

The decommissioning of IRA weapons was completed in 2005. The disarmament provision of the accord had been implemented.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Reintegration

Strand Three

Prisoners

5. The Governments continue to recognise the importance of measures to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners into the community by providing support both prior to and after release, including assistance directed towards availing of employment opportunities, re-training and/or reskilling, and further education.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

As the Irish and the British governments committed to the reintegration of paramilitary prisoners into society by creating job opportunities, retraining and furthering educational opportunities, a support infrastructure was created in 1998 by the European Union from the European Union Peace and Reconciliation Fund grant. It was reported that the Belfast-based Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust managed the fund. Also, over 26 community based ex-prisoner projects were in operation throughout Northern Ireland related to education, job skills programs, financial and welfare advice, housing and accommodation and family-orientated counseling Ireland.1

1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Prisoner Release

Strand Three: Prisoners

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

As provided in the accord, British government introduced a bill to release prisoners and the bill had a second reading on 10 June 1998. The bill, Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, received Royal Assent on 28 July 1998. According to this bill, prisoners affiliated with paramilitary organizations that had established and maintained “a complete and unequivocal case-fire (Article 8 (a) and (b)) are eligible for release. The bill also established The Sentence Review Commission (Article 7) to assess cases on an individual basis.1 The Sentence Review Commission was co-chaired by a South African human rights lawyer, Brain Currin, and a retired senior NIO civil servant, Sir John Blelloch.2

On 30 July 1998, as required by the 1998 Act, the Secretary of State of Northern Ireland specified supporters of the Continuity Irish Republican Army, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, the Irish National Liberation Army, and the Real Irish Republican Army not eligible for release because they did not maintain a complete and unequivocal ceasefire. On 18 November 1998, the Loyalist Volunteer Force was removed from the list.3 It was estimated that between 400 and 420 paramilitary prisoners will be able to apply for early release.4 Prisoner release was a hotly contested issue in the peace process as the Unionists maintained that the release would take place along with disarmament.5 Nevertheless, as of October 1998, a total of 167 prisoners were released.6

1999

Intermediate Implementation

Prisoner release continued in 1999. During Christmas and New Year time, 131 prisoners were granted extended home leave. As of 16 December, 308 prisoners were released.7 evertheless, with the release of high profile prisoners, public support for prisoner release dropped, according to a Belfast Telegraph opinion poll.8

2000

Full Implementation

The final batch of prisoners was released on 28 July. A total of 428 pro-British Loyalist and pro-Irish Republican guerrillas were released early under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.9

2001

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2002

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2003

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2004

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2005

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2006

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. 

2007

Full Implementation

The Sentence Review Commission continuously received applications for release of prisoners. Between 1998 and 2012, the commission received a total of 636 applications, of which 506 applications were granted release.10

Paramilitary Groups

Strand Three: Security:

3. The Secretary of State will consult regularly on progress, and the response to any continuing paramilitary activity, with the Irish Government and the political parties, as appropriate.

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement required all paramilitary to cease their activities and maintain ceasefire. While decommissioning of weapons in possession of the IRA remained a main obstacle to the peace process until 2005, the IRA resorted to ceasefire and disbanded itself. The Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters and Ulster Volunteer Force also resorted to ceasefire and did not participate in any paramilitary activities. They ceased paramilitary activities.

The Continuity Irish Republican Army, the Loyalist Volunteer Force, the Irish National Liberation Army and the Real Irish Republican Army were recognized as terrorist groups, and their commitment to ceasefire was not recognized as they were involved in ceasefire violations after the ceasefire announcement in 1997.1

1999

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

Human Rights

GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT 

Rights, Safeguards and Equality Of Opportunity

Human Rights

1. The parties affirm their commitment to the mutual respect, the civil rights and the religious liberties of everyone in the community. Against the background of the recent history of communal conflict, the parties affirm in particular:

- the right of free political thought;

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

Along with reaffirming a commitment to human rights in the Good Friday Agreement, parties agreed to change legislation in the UK to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). The Northern Ireland Act of 1998 also provided for the establishment of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. After the approval of the agreement in the referendum, The Northern Ireland Act (1998) guaranteed the establishment of the ECHR in Northern Ireland. 

1999

Full Implementation

The ECHR became effective on 2 December 1999, after the establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive on 29 November 1999.1

Also, the British government committed to a new statutory Equality Commission to replace the Fair Employment Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission (NI), the Commission for Racial Equality (NI), and the Disability Council. The establishment of the Equality Commission was provided for in the Northern Ireland Act (1998). The commission finally came into existence on 1 March 19992 and became operational on 1 September 1999.3

2000

Full Implementation

The human rights related provisions in the Good Friday Agreement were implemented between 1998 and 1999.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Right of Self-Determination

Constitutional Issues

1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Referendums took place both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, people were asked “Do you support the Agreement reached at the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?”.Turnout in the referendum was 81.1 percent of which 71.1 percent supported the agreement. In Republic of Ireland, people were asked “Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the under mentioned Bill, Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998?” Turnout in the referendum was 55.6 percent of which 94.4percent supported the proposed constitutional amendment.1

 According to the outcome of the referendum, Northern Ireland would rather stay within the United Kingdom. 

1999

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Citizenship Reform

Constitutional Issues

1. The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

Implementation History
1998

No Implementation

The referendum of 22 May 1998 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland approved the Good Friday Agreement, leading to the amendment of Article 2 and 3 of the Republic of Ireland’s Constitution and the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act (1920) from the British side. These constitutional changes, however, did not lead to the citizenship provision in the constitution.

1999

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2000

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2001

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2002

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2003

No Implementation

Constitutional amendment did not take place.

2004

Full Implementation

The Irish government finally amended its constitution on 24 June 2004 (27th Amendment), which stated that an Irish parent born on the island was “entitled [to] be an Irish citizen” (McAuley and Tonge, 2010).12. With this amendment in the Irish Constitution, citizens of Northern Ireland could choose to be citizens of the UK, Ireland, or both.

2005

Full Implementation

The citizenship provision of the accord was implemented in 2004. 

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Women's Rights

Strand Three: Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity

Human Rights

- the right of women to full and equal political participation.

Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity

Economic, Social and Cultural Issues

Implementation History
1998

No Implementation

The accord does not stipulate any specific programs or laws to be changed in the country. Women's representation in politics is increasing but remains well below 50 percent. In a 108 member assembly, there were 18 women recently elected.1 However, law ensuring equal treatment of both women and men in employment was not passed.

1999

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2000

Full Implementation

So far as the advancement of women in economic and social life and employment opportunities, the statutory laws of Northern Ireland (Year 2000, No. 8) ensure equal treatment of both women and men in terms of employment opportunities.2

2001

Full Implementation

Law ensuring equal treatment of both women and men in employment was not passed in 2000. In 2001, 14 women were elected to the assembly, which increased the number to 20 in total or 18% in 2011.3

  • 3. "Business - Votes for women up in Northern Ireland," Irish News, May 10, 2011.
2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Education Reform

Education Reform

Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity

Economic, Social and Cultural Issues

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

The Northern Ireland Act brought about substantial changes in terms of outlining strategies to deal with the treatment of languages, a Center Community Relations Unit was established to come up with a language use policy concerning the Irish language. 

Several measures were adopted regarding the use of the Irish language in schools. On 21 July 1998, the UK government issued Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 [1998 No. 1759 (N.I. 13)], devolving power to the Department of Education to support and promote Irish language education and Irish-medium schools. In December, the government of Northern Ireland also passed the Education Act.

1999

Intermediate Implementation

The Northern Ireland Act (1998) brought about substantial changes in terms of outlining strategies to deal with the treatment of languages, the North/South Language Implementation Body was established in December 1999.

2000

Full Implementation

The Northern Ireland Act (1998) brought about substantial changes in terms of outlining strategies to deal with the treatment of languages, the government signed the charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2000.

In 2000, the Department of Education established Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (CnaG), a representative body for Irish-medium education. According to the CnaG, there were around 90 Irish-medium schools at the pre-school, primary, and post-primary levels as of 2012, which provided an Irish-medium education to almost 5,000 children.1 There appeared to be steady progress in the promotion of Irish-medium education. Before the agreement, fewer than 500 students were enrolled in Irish language schools.

2001

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Full Implementation

In 2004, 3,713 students attended Irish language schools. This number had remained relatively steady since 2004. 

2005

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Full Implementation

No implementations reported in this year. 

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) failed to introduce the Irish Language Act in June 2008.2

  • 2. “Northern Ireland,” Keesing's Record of World Events 54 (June 2008): 48648.
Official Language and Symbol

Strand Three

Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity:

Economic, Social and Cultural Issues:

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

Substantial changes took place in terms of strategies outlining to promote language in the Northern Ireland Act (1998). In terms of the use of Irish language in schools, several measures were adopted. On 21 July 1998, the UK government issued Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 [1998 No. 1759 (N.I. 13)], in which the government devolved power to the Department of Education to support and promote Irish language education and Irish Medium schools. In December, the Northern Ireland government also passed the Education Act. Irish language is voluntarily used in schools and media outlets use the Irish language. 

In terms of sensitivity of symbols as specified in the Good Friday Agreement, the flying of the Union flag on public buildings and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) stations had increasingly been opposed by both the unionist and the republican. In 1998, however, the Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan issued a recommendation for an immediate stop of flying the Union flag outside all RUC stations.

1999

Intermediate Implementation

A Center Community Relations Unit was established to come up with a language use policy that included Irish language, establishment of the North/South Language Implementation Body in December 1999. Also, the Minister for Education in December 1999 decided not to fly a Union flag over the buildings housing the department.

2000

Full Implementation

After the establishment of the North/South Language Implementation Body in December 1999, the government signed on the charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2000.

Parties hotly debated issue of flying Union flags on public buildings at the Northern Ireland Assembly in June 2000. Sinn Fein had ordered departments under their control not to fly the Union Flag.1 On 8 November 2000, the government issued the Statutory Rules of Northern Ireland (No. 347) on flags,2 which came into effect on 11 November 2000. It specified certain days and occasions the Union flag could be flown. The legislation reduced the flag flying days from 21 to 17.3

2001

Full Implementation

Sinn Fein had challenged the Flag order which a High Court judge dismissed on 4 October 2001.4

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Minority Rights

Minority Rights: Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity

Economic, Social and Cultural Issues

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

After the signing of the accord, the government was committed to minority rights related to the use of language. The Northern Ireland Act (1998), which came into effect on 19 November 1998, outlined strategies for promoting the Irish language and Ulster language (Article 28D). But, the government had yet to sign the Charter recognizing Irish, Scottish, Ulster and other languages.

1999

Intermediate Implementation

To promote minority languages, the government set up Center Community Relations Unit to come up with a language use policy for Irish, Ulster and the languages of other communities. In December 1999, the North/South Language Implementation Body came into effect to enforce government’s commitment to support linguistic diversity as specified in the accord.1

2000

Intermediate Implementation

The UK government signed the charter for Regional or Minority Languages on 2 March 2000. After the signing, the government recognized the Irish, Ulster, Scots, Welsh, etc. languages.2

2001

Full Implementation

The government on 27 March 2001 ratified the Council of Europe Charter and recognized Irish, Welsh and Scottish language for Part III, which suggests commitment of the government to adopt measures to promote the use of local or minority languages.3 In 2001, a pilot scheme for Irish Language TV and film production started.  

2002

Full Implementation

A minority rights provision in the accord was implemented. Between 1998 and 2001, government took various measures to promote linguistic diversity.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Reparations

Strand Three: Reconciliation and Victims of Violence

11. The participants believe that it is essential to acknowledge and address the suffering of the victims of violence as a necessary element of reconciliation. They look forward to the results of the work of the Northern Ireland Victims Commission.

Implementation History
1998

Intermediate Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement had provided for the allocation of resources, including statutory and funding as necessary to meet the needs of victims of the trouble. The accord also recognizes the role of the Northern Ireland Victim’s Commission. The Northern Ireland Victim’s Commission was responsible for coming up with a report on how the 3,600 victims and 40,000 injured during the troubles should be remembered. On 13 May 1998, the commission made its recommendation for compensation to victims of violence and their support groups; an official ombudsman was organized to deal with demands and grievances of victims, creation of physical memorial, among other recommendations. 

1999

Intermediate Implementation

After the recommendation, the government appointed Sir Ken Bloomfield to review the Criminal Injuries Compensation System. On 26 May 1999 the Northern Ireland (Location of Victims’ Remains) Act 1999 was passed and created the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains to locate remains of victims.

2000

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Full Implementation

 In 2006, Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland was established under the office of the First Minister and First Deputy Minister. Among other responsibilities, the commission had r to manage a victims fund to help victims.1

The government had also established the Community Relations Council to administer Victim and Survivor Group’s funding (approximately £400,000 annually) and fund community/voluntary groups.2

2007

Full Implementation

No futher developments observed.

Economic and Social Development

Strand Three: Economic, Social and Cultural Issues

1. Pending the devolution of powers to a new Northern Ireland Assembly, the British Government will pursue broad policies for sustained economic growth and stability in Northern Ireland and for promoting social inclusion, including in particular community development and the advancement of women in public life.

Implementation History
1998

Minimum Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement outlined a broad economic and social reform agenda. In particular, the accord aimed for policies promoting sustained economic growth and community development in Northern Ireland. To achieve these initiatives, the accord required the British government to come up with measures that needed to be taken for employment equality, including a new regional development strategy, in Northern Ireland for the Assembly to consider.

In terms of promoting employment equality, the Northern Ireland Act (1998) also provided for the establishment of the Equality Commission, which became operational on 1 September 1999.1

1999

Intermediate Implementation

The Economic Development Strategy Review Steering Group was launched in March 1999 to provide recommendations for broad social and economic reforms. This group produced Strategy 2010: A Draft Economic Policy Review. In the report, the group made 62 different recommendations.2

For the regional development strategy, the government commissioned a regional Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland, which produced a document in June 1997. The document laid out Northern Ireland’s future development plans for the next two and half decades.3

The Department for Social Development was established in 1999, which was responsible for urban regeneration, community, and voluntary sector development, social legislation, housing, social security benefits, pensions, and child support.4 Similarly, the government established the Department of Enterprise, Investment, and Trade to formulate and develop economic policy.5

2000

Full Implementation

The final draft of the Regional Strategic Framework was considered by the Assembly in 2000.6

  • 6. “The Good Friday Agreement: New Economic Development Strategy.”
2001

Full Implementation

The economic and social reform provisions of the accord were implemented by 2000. While still economically recovering after ten years of signing the Good Friday Agreement, the government’s active involvement in the economic activities generated a lot of confidence in the private sector for investment. Between 1998 and January 2000, the unemployment rate declined rapidly from around 9% to below 5%. 

2002

Full Implementation

The unemployment rate remained steady. 

2003

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

Full Implementation

This trend in the unemployment rate remained very stable until December 2007. 

As the world economy suffered a financial crisis starting in 2008, the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland increased rapidly and stood at above 8% by the end of December 2008.7

Ratification Mechanism

Validation, Implementation and Review

Validation and Implementation

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Referendums took place both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, people were asked “Do you support the Agreement reached at the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?”Turnout in the referendum was 81.1% of which 71.1% supported the agreement. In Republic of Ireland, people were asked “Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the under mentioned Bill ? Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998.” Turnout in the referendum was 55.6% of which 94.4% supported the proposed constitutional amendment.1 As such, the Good Friday Agreement was ratified in the referendum.

Following the referendum, the 19th constitutional amendment in the Republic of Ireland took place on 3 June 1998.2 Similarly, the British Government repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 in November 1998. The Northern Ireland Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 15 July 1998 and the bill had its third reading in the House of Lords on 17 November. The bill got the royal assent on 19 November 1998.3

1999

Full Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement was ratified in the 1998 referendum. 

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

Detailed Implementation Timeline

Strand Three: Validation and Implementation

1. The two Governments will as soon as possible sign a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, embodying understandings on constitutional issues and affirming their solemn commitment to support and, where appropriate, implement the agreement reached by the participants in the negotiations which shall be annexed to the British-Irish Agreement.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Provision related to replacing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement as well as provision related to referendum in both places. However, the decommissioning of all paramilitary organizations did not happen in 1998.

1999

Full Implementation

While referendum provision and constitutional change provision met the initial implementation timeline, decommissioning of paramilitary did not happen within two years. 

2000

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2003

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

Full Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

Full Implementation

The decommission process was completed in 2005.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Independence Referendum

Validation, Implementation and Review

Validation and Implementation

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Referendums took place both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, people were asked “Do you support the Agreement reached at the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?”Turnout in the referendum was 81.1% of which 71.1% supported the agreement. In Republic of Ireland, people were asked “Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the under mentioned Bill ? Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998.” Turnout in the referendum was 55.6% of which 94.4% supported the proposed constitutional amendment.1

According to the outcome of the referendum, Northern Ireland would stay within the United Kingdom. 

1999

Full Implementation

Referendum took place in 1998. 

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Review of Agreement

Strand 1: Democratic Institutions in Northern Ireland: Review:

36. After a specified period there will be a review of these arrangements, including the details of electoral arrangements and of the Assembly’s procedures, with a view to agreeing any adjustments necessary in the interests of efficiency and fairness. 

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

Each party was free to review progress at any time. In addition, the British and Irish governments published annual reviews pertaining to the progress that had been made. However, changes to the agreed framework would have to be passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Each government was free to review progress at any moment. In addition, each government published annual reviews of progress. However, changes to the agreed framework would have to be passed by the Northern Irish Assembly.

1999

Full Implementation

September – November 1999, Senator Mitchell chairs a review of the Belfast Agreement. The Patten Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland releases its recommendations for a radical overhaul of the police service.

2000

Full Implementation

In May 2000, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arrive in Northern Ireland for talks as part of a review of the Belfast Agreement. Peter Mandelson offers to reduce the presence of British Army soldiers in Northern Ireland by an unspecified number if the IRA keeps to its promise on decommissioning.1

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.

Verification/Monitoring Mechanism

Disarmament: Strand Three

Decommissioning

4. The Independent Commission will monitor, review and verify progress on decommissioning of illegal arms, and will report to both Governments at regular intervals.

Implementation History
1998

Full Implementation

The accord provided for the establishment of Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to monitor, review and verify the total disarmament of all paramilitary organizations. The deadline for completing the disarmament was May 2000. The Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act (1997), which received Royal Assent on 27 February 1997, had a provision in Article 7 for the establishment of an independent international decommissioning commission. The act was enacted before the accord was signed in 1998. Therefore, the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was already established when the accord was signed and was headed by Canadian General John de Chastelain.1

The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.2

1999

Full Implementation

The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1999.3

2000

Full Implementation

The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.4

2001

Full Implementation

The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.5

2002

Full Implementation

The IICD verified that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place in 1998.6

2003

Full Implementation

While the IICD’s effectiveness was contingent on paramilitary compiling the provisions in accords and because the Government of Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom committed themselves in finding peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues and opposed any use or threat of force for any political purpose (Good Friday Agreement, Declaration of Support, Article 4), and because peace process stalled on issues related to decommissioning of weapons, the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reached an agreement in Dublin on 25 November 2003 to establish an independent International Monitoring Commission (IMC) to monitor any activities by a paramilitary activities and report its findings to the two governments in six month intervals.7

2004

Full Implementation

The commission has a provision for four members from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United States. The monitoring commission was inaugurated in January and the commission submitted its first report on paramilitary activities on 20 April 2004.8 In 2004, the commission submitted three reports on paramilitary activities.

  • 8. "First Report of the Independent Monitoring Commission (HC 516)," Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), London: The Stationery Office (TSO), April 20, 2004.
2005

Full Implementation

Because the IICD could only verify weapon decommissions and cannot compel paramilitaries to decommission their weapons, the IICD failed to gain trust among unionists. It was only after the IRA announcement in July 2005 that it had ceased its armed struggle and would “dump arms” in favor of democratic means.9 According to the IICD chairman General John de Chastelain, two churchmen had witnessed the decommissioning process.10

In 2005, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted three reports on paramilitary activities.

2006

Full Implementation

In 2006, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted five reports on paramilitary activities.

2007

Full Implementation

In 2007, the Independent Monitoring Commission submitted five reports on paramilitary activities.

The Independent Monitoring Commission continued to submit its reports, which was terminated in 2011. By 2011, the commission submitted twenty-six reports. 

Please always cite: Peace Accords Matrix (Date of retrieval: (02/21/2017),
http://peaceaccords.nd.edu/accord/northern-ireland-good-friday-agreement,
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame.