Working class ‘demand better’ after 25 years of Good Friday Agreement


By Una Murphy

It is not ‘unrealistic’ for working class communities, to ‘demand better’ and expect both peace and a decent life for them and their children, an Open Forum to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement has agreed.

Political, academic and media leaders in Northern Ireland were challenged not to stop critical and honest debate about the Agreement.

There was a consensus at the event at Queen’s University that working class people deserve both peace and to live in a peaceful society as well as well paid jobs, welfare benefits, functioning public services and a protected environment.

Participants also agreed that working class people cannot rely on political leaders who had failed to deliver a just transition to a fairer society.

They felt that it was only through continued and intensified struggle, across the range of issues faced by the working class, that progress could be made towards advancing working class demands. Opportunities for exchange between radical activists had a role to play in supporting and sustaining these initiatives.

The discussion on ‘Agreement 25: A ‘Frozen Peace’ and a ‘Cold House’ for Working Class Communities’ took place on May 26. At the Open Forum, participants questioned whether after 25 years there had been a peace dividend and what was the actual political economy of the transition underway in Northern Ireland. A final open session considered whether the Agreement needed to be reformed or transformed.

Participants shared experiences and aspirations based on their struggles to address the realities of the lives of the working people in the North since the Agreement was signed in April 1998.