Analysis: Agreement Spells out Equality
Byline: Gerry Adams
THIS week marks the fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It will also see the culmination of the current efforts to re-establish the political institutions suspended by the British Government.
The Good Friday Agreement is an instrument of change, real change. That is why nationalists, republicans and many unionists support it and that is why rejectionist unionists and the British establishment oppose it.
They understand that the Agreement is essentially about creating a level playing field in which equality, human rights and justice will be the entitlement of every citizen. They understand that the Agreement is about creating a society in which there will be real, accountable, civic policing and in which the weapons of war will be consigned to the past, and that is why the institutions have more often been suspended than actually working in the last five years.
That is why issues like the Bill of Rights and the work of the Human Rights and Equality Commissions, as well as policing and demilitarisation and much more, have all become issues of controversy and dispute.
Because it represents fundamental political and social change, the Agreement has been hugely traumatic for many within the unionist community. This has been exacerbated by some of those in the unionist political leadership who have sought to exploit the natural fear of change for party political or personal advantage.
In addition, the conditions of serious and severe social alienation in loyalist working class areas have led to genuine feelings of isolation. The causes of these conditions are many - not least the same social and economic factors that exist in republican and nationalist communities. …