Context and Development of Irish Literature:
History, Poetry, Landscape
Ireland Situation, 1985 to the present day
In 1985, the
Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed, giving the Republic of Ireland
a voice in Northern Ireland affairs for the first time.
Unionists criticized this move, but other political parties had
arisen in the North--most notably the SDLP (Social and
Democratic Labour Party)--that were pushing the North towards a
political solution to its long history of violence.
In 1997, the IRA announced an unequivocal
cease-fire. Shortly thereafter, the Good Friday (Belfast)
Agreement of 1998 was signed by the British and Irish
governments & endorsed by most Northern Ireland parties (with
the exception of the ultra-Unionist Democratic Unionist Party).
It also was approved by referendum by the population of Northern
Ireland, and the Republic changed its constitution to align with
the Agreement. It had 3 particularly important provisions:
the constitutional status of NI could
only be changed by a majority vote of its citizenry
establishment of a NI assembly with
devolved (i.e., granted from Great Britain, the titular
sovereign state) powers
establishment of a "power-sharing"
executive in NI
Amid excitement and hope over this
agreement, violence erupted again, as later that summer a bomb
killed 29 in Omagh, and the splinter group "The Real IRA" claim
responsibility. The violence gave more credence to
Unionist skepticism over the IRA's claim to be decommissioning
The PIRA announced total decommissioning in
September of 2005, despite far less decommissioning by Loyalist
paramilitary groups. The power-sharing agreement was
reasserted in 2007, bringing Paisley's DUP and Sinn Fein, the
political representatives of the IRA, together in government.
Paisley served as First Minister, and Martin McGuinness of Sinn
Fein--himself a former IRA commander--served as Deputy First
Minister. Paisley retired from public office in 2008, to be
replaced by Peter Robinson. Robinson and McGuinness share
executive power today. In the winter of 2010, after nearly
two weeks of around-the-clock negotiations, it was agreed to
transfer policing and justice powers to the power-sharing
government in Northern Ireland, effective April 12, 2010.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proclaims, “This is the last
chapter of a long and troubled story and the beginning of a new
chapter after decades of violence, years of talks, weeks of