What's Next for Northern Ireland?
Though the 2010 Agreement was a huge breakthrough for Northern Ireland, the question of how to deal with the legacy of the troubled past has proved divisive. Sporadic incidents and the occasional resurgence of sectarian violence grab the headlines while issues such as who can march where, what flag flies where and when, remain contentious. At the end of 2014 the parties eventually endorsed a new deal—the Stormont House Agreement—forged after 11 weeks of talks and culminating in 30 hours of hothouse negotiations right before Christmas. The agreement established new structures to deal with the legacy of the "Troubles," the treatment of victims from the conflict, and the thousands of unsolved crimes from 1969 onwards. It was facilitated with a £2-billion financial package from the British government.
Whatever the political bickering and small-scale protests over the non-flying of flags from government buildings, the vast majority of ordinary people get on with the business of leading their lives and are opposed to violence. Northern Ireland is enjoying the greatest prosperity and longest period of peace in its history. Talk to anyone on the streets of Belfast or Derry and they’re likely to tell you that while the situation may not be perfect, it is infinitely better than the dark days of the Troubles.
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