The Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, was a historic accord signed on April 10, 1998, by the British and Irish governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland. The agreement was devised to bring an end to the sectarian conflict between the Protestant community, who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, and the Catholic community, who sought a united Ireland.
The accord was signed by a total of eight political parties representing both communities. The signatories were as follows:
1. Ulster Unionist Party – Representing the Protestant community who wished to remain part of the United Kingdom, the UUP was led by David Trimble, who would later receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the agreement.
2. Democratic Unionist Party – Another political party representing the Protestant community, the DUP initially opposed the agreement, but later agreed to participate in the power-sharing government.
3. Social Democratic and Labour Party – The SDLP represented the Catholic community and sought a united Ireland. The party was led by John Hume, who also received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the agreement.
4. Sinn Fein – The political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Sinn Fein represented the Catholic community and also sought a united Ireland. The party was led by Gerry Adams, who played a crucial role in negotiating the agreement.
5. Alliance Party – The Alliance Party was a cross-community party in Northern Ireland that represented both Protestants and Catholics.
6. Progressive Unionist Party – A loyalist party that represented working-class Protestants.
7. Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition – A cross-community and feminist political party that represented women in Northern Ireland.
8. United Kingdom Unionist Party – A small unionist party that represented working-class Protestants.
The Belfast Agreement was a significant milestone in the history of Northern Ireland and brought an end to decades of violence and sectarian conflict. The agreement established a devolved power-sharing government in Northern Ireland, with the UUP and SDLP sharing the first minister and deputy first minister roles.
In conclusion, the Belfast Agreement signatories represented a diverse range of political views and communities in Northern Ireland. Their willingness to negotiate and compromise led to a historic accord that brought peace and stability to the region.