IRA rejected the Agreement stating it was not a valid expression of self-determination.
However, it did not call for a No vote in the referendum and supported the
Sinn Féin position. The second largest Unionist Party, Ian Paisley's
DUP described the Agreement as "treacherous" and voted against
it in the referendum yet the party plays an active part in the Assembly
and its committees and has two ministers in the Executive.
Good Friday Agreement represents the most significant shift in party political
positions since the partition of Ireland in 1921. For the first time in
the history of the Troubles the British and Irish governments have radically
addressed the conflict over opposing nationalisms by providing a framework
within which the principle of consent will decide any future constitutional
political architecture of the Agreement is complex; it has been designed
to transform a violent war over national self-determination into a political
conflict where negotiation rather than the gun is the final arbiter. Political
scientist Brendan O'Leary believes the Agreement is based on Arend Lijphart's
concept of consociationalism with the added dimension of federal and confederal
institutions. A consociation is an association of communities arrived at
by a political agreement, and in the case of Northern Ireland, between British
unionists, Irish nationalists and others. Other academics are critical of
the consociational model.
opposed to the Agreement reject the consociational model on two grounds:
enforced power-sharing is anti-democratic and will not work and cross-border
co-operation undermines British sovereignty.
SDLP Deputy Leader Seamus Mallon described the Agreement as "Sunningdale
for slow learners". This was a reference to the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement,
an earlier cross-community political settlement that lasted only five months.
there are structural similarities between the two, the Good Friday Agreement
is a more complex document. It deals with opposing claims to sovereignty
and provides unionists and nationalists with equivalent rights of self-determination.
People living in Northern Ireland can choose to be British, Irish or both.