The Good Friday Agreement has two fundamental flaws:
(1) it merely reaffirms the same devolved governmental structure that resulted in a climate where the abrogation of civil and human rights flourished: Instead of giving the people of Northern Ireland full legislative autonomy or a greater voice in Westminster Parliament, the local Assembly still has only a limited scope of legislative authority;
(2) the Northern Ireland Act of 2000 provides for suspension of an already devolved form of government in that the British Prime Minister, acting through the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, may suspend the Assembly and thereby prevent its meeting or passage of laws as well as suspend the operation of the North-South Ministerial Council, British-Irish Council, and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference established under the Good Friday Agreement. These two flaws together thereby withhold from the people of Northern Ireland a comprehensive guarantee of a protective and democratic voice in their ruling politics.
Essentially, the Good Friday Agreement establishes yet another form of devolved government within the United Kingdom, which is problematic for the success of the Agreement in two regards. First, the republican community has historically renounced British rule and while elected representatives may take their seats on the local parliament (or “Assembly” as it now is called), most will not occupy their elected seats in the Westminster Parliament. Using the law to resist the law evolved during the war into an effective alternative to furthering Irish republicanism without the use of violence. Second, the unique issues and demands of the citizens of Northern Ireland are not adequately addressed due to their marginal representation in Westminster Parliament.
In context of the United Kingdom’s overall structure, the similarly devolved governments in Scotland and Wales have not met with the challenges of Northern Ireland’s parliamentary structure either under the Good Friday Agreement or during the prior parliamentary structure. In Scotland and Wales, the political parties are generally loyal to Westminster and aligned with the notion of its parliamentary sovereignty. Moreover, the Scottish and Welsh parliaments have not been subject to the extreme diverging politics of Northern Ireland: citizens of Scotland and Wales typically do not renounce British control and there is not a modern history of violent civil war. The devolved government in Northern Ireland is a unique flaw in the otherwise operable British system of decentralized governments within its regional sphere of power.
The foremost obstruction to true democracy in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement is the provision that allows the British government to suspend operation of Northern Ireland’s Assembly. The Northern Ireland Act of 2000 explicates the procedure for suspension, allowing for suspension at the discretion of the Secretary of State (usually acting in concert with the British Prime Minister). Northern Ireland’s Assembly has been suspended numerous times since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The entirety of Northern Ireland’s unique issues and needs are ultimately left exclusively to the legislative whims of Westminster Parliament, of which Northern Ireland’s representative voice is eighteen constituencies of 659 total members of Parliament.
WITH MANY THANKS STORY BY : Started by Donal O’Meadhra
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