Lyrical Agreement: a video to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement

Key excerpts from the agreement are read aloud by people of all ages: commissioned by the Institute of Irish Studies for its virtual exhibition Agreement: A People’s Process

The voices are both those who lived through conflict, and those who have known more peaceful times

The voices are both those who lived through conflict, and those who have known more peaceful times

 

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. In the referenda that followed, more than 1.4 million people in Ireland and more than 600,000 people in Northern Ireland – a staggering 85 per cent of the combined electorate (71 per cent in Northern Ireland and 91 per cent in Ireland) – endorsed the agreement and its commitment to democratic methods.

The people’s enthusiasm and support infused all levels of society, where civic, community, and political leaders continue to work strenuously to undermine a return to violence. Because of the agreement, it is now commonplace for people to work across the constitutional divide. In so doing, people across the island of Ireland learn from each other in ways that were once thought implausible.

Lyrical Agreement

Key to the agreement was the significant de-escalation in violence. Between 1968 and 1998, some 3,600 people were killed and 40,000 injured. In that period, there was an average of 110 killings per year. Last year, there were five. In the same period, shooting incidents have fallen from an average of 1,920 per year to 61 last year. We are now living in a society in which violence has waned, wilted and become uncommon. The agreement has ensured that our society does not create another traumatised generation.

The agreement also created new social spaces. Workplaces and places of relaxation and social engagement are now more commonly shared by those who live in a society of cultural and social choice and not one of artificial and imposed difference. Abour 20 per cent of long-term romantic relationships in Northern Ireland are across the sectarian divide. Research undertaken at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool shows that a younger generation practices the agreement’s call for parity of esteem and sharing in their everyday lives. There remain many problems to be solved but we must weigh those against what has been achieved.

Lyrical Agreement is a unique work that the Institute of Irish Studies commissioned for its virtual exhibition Agreement: A People’s Process. Excerpts from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement are read aloud by people of all ages living in Northern Ireland. The voices are both those who lived through conflict, and those who have known more peaceful times. It features contributors from both sides of the border, as well as those who have come to call Northern Ireland home.

Lyrical Agreement illustrates the need to share and commit to a better future. The film, and all of the virtual exhibition, is free to use. Readers are encouraged to pass it on to others and help them reflect upon the significant and positive changes that we have encountered and – more importantly – upheld and will continue to promote.
View the entire virtual exhibition: liv.ac.uk/peoplesprocess

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.