The challenges of delivering the Good Friday Agreement

The Good Friday Agreement was signed on 10 April 1998 after two years of multi-party talks sanctioned with the support of international partners, and marked the end of the thirty-year conflict known as 'The Troubles'.

On 21 November 2019, St Catharine's College hosted a panel discussion on the challenges of delivering the Agreement, the aim of which was to enhance historical understanding and dialogue between Northern Ireland, Ireland and Britain, at a time when the question of the Irish border was a major political concern following the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union. The panellists included John Reid (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2001–2002), Angela Smith (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2002–2006), and Paul Murphy (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2002–2005). The discussion was chaired by St Catharine’s Fellow, Dr Niamh Gallagher, and Fellow Commoner, Des Browne (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 2001-2003). 

Approximately 120 people attended including the Chair and Regius Professors of the Faculty of History, the Deputy Ambassador of Ireland, ministers of state, Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, former British servicemen who served in Northern Ireland during the conflict, undergraduate and postgraduate students of the University of Cambridge, and members of the public. The discussion covered the series of events that led to the Agreement, the challenges of implementing peace in the ten years that followed, and the barriers to peace that remain in Northern Ireland today.

Watch videos from the event:

The Faculty of History was involved in the event and students from across the University, both undergraduates and postgraduates, were able to ask questions of the panel.

The event also contributed towards the development of The Mether Initiative.