The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on April 10, 1998. This historic peace agreement marked the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, a period of armed conflict between nationalists and unionists. The agreement was signed by the British and Irish governments and political parties in Northern Ireland, except for a few notable exceptions.
One of the most prominent groups that did not sign the Good Friday Agreement was the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP, a unionist party in Northern Ireland, opposed the agreement and argued that it made too many concessions to Irish nationalists. The party was led by Ian Paisley at the time, who was a vocal opponent of the agreement. Paisley famously shouted “Never, never, never!” during a speech in 1985 in response to a proposed Anglo-Irish Agreement.
Another unionist party that did not sign the agreement was the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The UUP had initially participated in the negotiations that led to the agreement but ultimately rejected it. The party`s leader, David Trimble, argued that the agreement did not go far enough in guaranteeing Northern Ireland`s place within the United Kingdom.
On the nationalist side, the political party Sinn Féin did not initially sign the agreement. Sinn Féin, which is closely associated with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), had been in talks with the British government but withdrew from negotiations in 1995. The party eventually signed the agreement in 1998, but only after the IRA had declared a ceasefire.
Another nationalist group that did not sign the agreement was the Continuity IRA. This group opposed the ceasefire and believed that the agreement did not go far enough in securing a united Ireland.
In conclusion, while the Good Friday Agreement was a significant milestone in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, it was not without its detractors. The DUP and UUP, both unionist parties, did not sign the agreement, while Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA, both nationalist groups, had reservations about it. Despite these disagreements, the agreement has largely held up and is still considered a crucial step in achieving lasting peace in Northern Ireland.