Good Friday Agreement

Multi-Party Agreement
TypeMultilateral agreement
Signed10 April 1998 (1998-04-10)
LocationBelfast, Northern Ireland
Effective2 December 1999 (1999-12-02)
PartiesBritish Government
Irish Government
Political parties of Northern Ireland
LanguageEnglish
Irish
British-Irish Agreement
TypeBilateral international agreement
Signed10 April 1998 (1998-04-10)
LocationBelfast, Northern Ireland
Effective2 December 1999 (1999-12-02)
Original
signatories
United Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
RatifiersUnited Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
LanguageEnglish
Irish

Constitutional documents and events (present & historical) relevant to the status of the United Kingdom and legislative unions of its constituent countries
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Treaty of Union1706
Acts of Union1707
Wales and Berwick Act1746
Irish Constitution1782
Acts of Union1800
Parliament Act1911
Government of Ireland Act1920
Anglo-Irish Treaty1921
Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act1927
Statute of Westminster1931
United Nations Act1946
Parliament Act1949
EC Treaty of Accession1972
NI (Temporary Provisions) Act1972
European Communities Act1972
Local Government Act1972
Local Government (Scotland) Act1973
NI Border Poll1973
NI Constitution Act1973
Referendum Act1975
EC Membership Referendum1975
Scotland Act1978
Wales Act1978
Scottish Devolution Referendum1979
Welsh Devolution Referendum1979
Local Government (Wales) Act1994
Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act1994
Referendums (Scotland & Wales) Act1997
Scottish Devolution Referendum1997
Welsh Devolution Referendum1997
Good Friday Agreement1998
Northern Ireland Act1998
Government of Wales Act1998
Human Rights Act1998
Scotland Act1998
Government of Wales Act2006
Northern Ireland Act2009
Welsh Devolution Referendum2011
European Union Act2011
Fixed-term Parliaments Act2011
Scotland Act2012
Edinburgh Agreement2012
Scottish Independence Referendum2014
Wales Act2014
European Union Referendum Act2015
EU Membership Referendum2016
Scotland Act2016
Wales Act2017
EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Act2017
Invocation of Article 502017
European Union (Withdrawal) Act2018

The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or Belfast Agreement (Irish: Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaontú Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots: Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance)[1] was a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s. Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The agreement is made up of two inter-related documents, both agreed in Belfast on Good Friday, 10 April 1998:

  1. a multi-party agreement by most of Northern Ireland's political parties (the Multi-Party Agreement);
  2. an international agreement between the British and Irish governments (the British-Irish Agreement).

The agreement set out a complex series of provisions relating to a number of areas including:

  • The status and system of government of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. (Strand 1)
  • The relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. (Strand 2)
  • The relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. (Strand 3)

Issues relating to sovereignty, civil and cultural rights, decommissioning of weapons, demilitarisation, justice, and policing were central to the agreement.

The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums held on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, voters were asked in the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement referendum, 1998 whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and allow necessary constitutional changes (Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland) to facilitate it. The people of both jurisdictions needed to approve the agreement in order to give effect to it.

The British-Irish Agreement came into force on 2 December 1999 with the help of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.[2][3] The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was the only major political group in Northern Ireland to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.[4]

Parties and structure

The agreement was made between the British and Irish governments and eight political parties or groupings from Northern Ireland: the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Sinn Féin,[5][6] the Alliance Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, the Ulster Democratic Party and Labour.

The agreement comprises two elements:

  • the legal agreement between the two governments, signed by the leaders of the two governments; and
  • a more substantial agreement between the eight political parties and the two governments.

The former text has just four articles; it is that short text that is the legal agreement, but it incorporates in its schedules the latter agreement.[3] Technically, this scheduled agreement can be distinguished as the Multi-Party Agreement, as opposed to the Belfast Agreement itself.[3]

The vague wording of some of the provisions, described as "constructive ambiguity",[7] helped ensure acceptance of the agreement and served to postpone debate on some of the more contentious issues. Most notably these included paramilitary decommissioning, police reform and the normalisation of Northern Ireland.

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Persetujuan Belfast
Bahasa Melayu: Perjanjian Belfast
norsk nynorsk: Langfredagsavtala
português: Acordo de Belfast
Simple English: Belfast Agreement
українська: Белфастська угода