We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

What the Good Friday Agreement means to me

March 30, 2018 7:54 PM
By Carrie Hynds

Last week, I watched a documentary about the Funeral Murders that took place in Belfast 30 years ago. It was a well-made piece of film but incredibly difficult to watch.

I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, and my earliest memories are marked by The Troubles. Bomb scares were common, empty vehicles with their engines running were cause for alarm, and at the army checkpoints I would be asked to get off my booster seat so that a man with a rifle could check whether it had been hollowed out to conceal weapons or drugs. You arrived at the airport two and a half hours ahead of your flight because each item of luggage would be individually unpacked and searched. You were constantly aware of the possibility of being in the wrong place in the wrong time, and it was tiring, tiring, tiring.

But for the generation before mine, The Troubles were traumatic on a scale that was difficult to comprehend then and is still difficult to comprehend now. Distrust and shootings and mass incidents on narrow streets. In a country with such a small population with large extended families, there was barely anyone who hadn't been directly affected by at least one attack.

The Good Friday Agreement was signed ten years after the Funeral Murders. When you watch the footage, that fact seems incredible. It was a huge act of sacrifice by a traumatised generation, so that my generation wouldn't have to go through what they'd been through.

By the late 1990s, there were still bomb scares but there was also decommissioning. There were still us'uns and them'uns, but there were also cross-community events where Protestant and Catholic schoolchildren mixed for the first time and saw just how much they had in common. Belfast started to be a safe place to go, and then became an incredibly fun place to go. And for all of this to happen, thousands of people across Northern Ireland had to accept that they wouldn't be able to take revenge and that they might never see justice served.

Twenty years on from the signing of the agreement, I feel thankful on Good Friday for their selflessness. And I feel a strong determination to protect the legacy of peace.

Belfast City Hall