The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on April 10, 1998, between the British and Irish governments and Northern Ireland`s political parties. The agreement ended decades of conflict and violence in Northern Ireland, which had claimed more than 3,500 lives.
One of the key provisions of the Good Friday Agreement was the establishment of an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This was a significant achievement, given that the border had long been a symbol of division and conflict.
However, the future of the Ireland border has been thrown into uncertainty by the United Kingdom`s decision to leave the European Union. The EU has been a crucial factor in ensuring the open border between the two countries, as both are members of the EU`s single market and customs union.
But with Brexit, the UK is set to leave the single market and customs union, which will mean a return to customs and regulatory checks at the border. This has raised concerns about the potential impact on the peace and stability that has been achieved in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.
The Irish government and the EU have been working to find a solution that would preserve the open border, but this has proved to be a difficult task. One proposed solution is a “backstop” arrangement, which would keep Northern Ireland aligned with the EU`s rules on trade and customs, even if the rest of the UK diverges from them.
However, this proposal has been met with opposition from some quarters, including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is currently propping up the UK government. The DUP argues that the backstop would create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which it sees as unacceptable.
The future of the Ireland border is therefore uncertain, and it remains to be seen whether a solution can be found that satisfies all parties. But one thing is clear: any attempt to undermine the Good Friday Agreement or reopen the division between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would be deeply damaging to the peace and stability that has been achieved over the past two decades.