Other Issues

In addition to establishing institutions under its 3 strands, the Agreement addressed other issues.

It committed parties to encourage decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and it set up the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) to monitor their progress in this area. It was this issue led to the first suspension of the Assembly, in February 2000, after only 11 weeks in operation. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was reluctant to remain in the Executive with Sinn Fein unless there was progress on the decommissioning of IRA weapons.

The Agreement also referred to ‘demilitarisation’: as peace became more firmly established and we moved towards a more ‘normal’ society, the military presence in Northern Ireland would be scaled down.

A commission was established to consider the reform of policing in Northern Ireland. This was a very controversial part of the Agreement.

Also very controversial was the early release of prisoners convicted of activities relating to the conflict.

Questions: Why was reform of policing so controversial? Which two senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party resigned over this issue and the early release of prisoners?