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26 April 2023 - Seminar 1 - Reflections on Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Power-sharing

Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings

Speaker Launches the
“Reflections on the Belfast/Good Friday Seminar Series”

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly launched the “Reflections on the Belfast/Good Friday Seminar Series” on Wednesday, 26 April 2023, in the Senate Chamber of Parliament Buildings.  Immediately following was the first seminar in the Series; when invited academics drew on their areas of study, while reflecting on the Agreement and power-sharing (see below).  The academics’ presentations were followed by group discussion and refreshments. Both the launch and seminar 1 were open to all to attend, subject to available seating.

“What the Northern Ireland public thinks about power-sharing under current devolution arrangements” - Professor John Garry, Queen’s University Belfast

A quarter of a century after the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, debates over power-sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland continue. This presentation briefly describes the current power-sharing arrangements; and then addresses public attitudes to those arrangements, highlighting key findings arising from survey data collected directly after the May 2022 Assembly Election. It examines: Was the public strongly in favour of existing power-sharing arrangements; or, was there support for reforming the arrangements? Also, how did views vary by community background; and, what were the views of those who did not fit neatly into a “unionist” or a “nationalist” category, such as those who identified as “Northern Irish”?

Listen to the presentation on the Assembly Podcast


“A deliberative forum on possible reforms to power-sharing” - Dr Sean Haughey, University of Liverpool and Dr Jamie Pow, Queen’s University Belfast

Twenty-five years after the signing of the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, debate emerges about the future of the power-sharing institutions established under the Agreement. This presentation reports on the findings of a small-scale citizens' assembly – a deliberative forum – which brought together a broadly representative sample of people from across Northern Ireland, to ascertain citizens' views on: maintaining the current power-sharing system; replacing the present system with a government formation system based purely on negotiation between political parties; or, replacing the current system with a government formation system based on both negotiation and cross-community inclusion. The findings assist in better understanding public attitudes towards the status quo and potential alternative government formation models. Importantly, they shed light on the reasons behind these attitudes and the process by which any potential reform(s) could come about. 

Listen to the presentation on the Assembly Podcast