SINCE the signing of the Good Friday Agreement 25 years ago, a new generation has grown up in post-Troubles Northern Ireland.
A major milestone which ended a decades-long conflict, the Agreement saw the establishment of power-sharing in Stormont, the disbandment of the RUC and the formation of the PSNI and the disarmament of the majority of paramilitaries.
For young people growing up in the ashes of our troubled past, the conflict was only seen through stories told by parents and grandparents, but, for the most part, the ‘Agreement’ generation are unscathed by the very real violence that was once waged on our streets.
Here’s what some of them have to say on the legacy of the peace deal…
“Growing up in the North after the Good Friday Agreement is something which I am very grateful for. It’s still surreal at times to listen to stories from my parents and extended family about their own experiences of the Troubles in the 70s and 80s. I’d argue that it’s been mostly successful when it comes to how successful it’s been. We’ve made great strides forward in terms of reconciliation and building cross-community relationships. However, the lack of government (especially now) as well as the many tragic incidents that have taken place since 1998 are a reminder that there is a vocal minority still out there who don’t want our generation to live in peace.”
– Marty Carlin, born 2000
“The Good Friday Agreement was a huge turning point for NI, giving us more normality where we stand today. NI still has a long way to go from its sectarian culture, but I believe the Agreement creates a great sense of hope for our country’s future of peace between different flavours of the same religion.”
– Rois Harvey, born 2000
“I feel very privileged and lucky to be born after the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Everyone hears tales all the time about not only the violence and sectarianism that went on. But also, the precautions that people had to take. I can’t imagine the thought of not feeling safe in my own town, never knowing who’s out to get you, scared to give my name to strangers or of accidentally going down the wrong road. I am so proud of how far we have come since those times, and although we still aren’t perfect as a society, we are definitely closer together. That’s what it means to me to be born after the Good Friday agreement.”
– Daniel Bell, born 2001
“I think the Good Friday Agreement was a good thing overall for the people of NI. When you look back and see pictures and videos of the bombed-out buildings and riots, it feels almost unreal. I grew up in an era without barricades or police checkpoints or daily reports of the dead, like my parents did, so I can say the GFA allowed me to have a more normal childhood. I think the major factor affecting me today is the way the government has been created, as it allows one side to collapse the institutions and prevent their re-establishment until they can get what they want. This prevents responsible government.
– Carl Logan, born 2003
“I think compared to what it was like pre-Agreement, it’s a lot better. I grew up hearing the horror stories of what my family lived through, but never had to experience it for myself. The only bad experiences I’ve went through have been instances of sectarian discrimination during my time at secondary school. It has been successful if you look at the vast difference of growing up pre-Agreement compared to now, with the majority of the country living in peace. Anything that stopped weekly death and destruction can only be seen as a success.”
– Tristan Hamilton, born 1997
“(I) don’t know that much about it other than it’s very good for travelling to Europe after Brexit as I get dual citizenship and it was an agreement that allowed the disarmament of paramilitaries. It’s the reason why we are not still experiencing the Troubles and gives me a better and more peaceful life.”
– Ronan Duncan, born 2003
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