Within the international community, Northern Ireland is considered to have reached a degree of political stability with the five main political parties working as a power sharing coalition in a devolved government at Stormont since May 2007. The existing arrangements are rooted in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 1998 that ushered in a democratically elected Assembly ‘inclusive in its membership, capable of exercising executive and legislative authority and subject to safeguards to protect the rights and interest of all sides of the community’ (The Agreement, 1998: 5). The Agreement was reached following intensive negotiations in the multiparty talks at Stormont on 10 April 1998 (Good Friday). Stand I of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement agreed to democratic institutions within Northern Ireland. Strands II and III involved North-South and East-West relationships. The former is operationalised through the North-South Ministerial Council and the latter via the British-Irish Council and British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (Coakley, 2007). A referendum was held in May 1998 to ratify the Agreement. Seventy-one per cent of Northern Ireland’s voters supported the Agreement. This represented virtually all nationalist voters, but unionism was evenly split between supporters and opponents of the Agreement.
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Vani K. Borooah
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