The Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement and the Challenges of Brexit

Author: Mary Hendriksen

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April 2018 marked the 20thanniversary of the signing of the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement. The anniversary fell as the United Kingdom approached the second anniversary of its referendum decision to leave the European Union (EU) and as the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the EU continue to come to terms with the prospect of changed relationships and the challenges posed by those changes. 

How exactly will Brexit affect the 1998 Agreement and its continued implementation? What are the specific challenges created by the referendum outcome? And how might these challenges be addressed? These questions were at the foundation of a special conference organized by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame in cooperation with The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice and the Institute for Irish Studies at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB).

"Our Institute was pleased to take a leadership role in this important conference," says Patrick Griffin, Madden-Hennebry Professor of History and Director of the Keough-Naughton Institute. "While continuing to strengthen our traditional areas of excellence in Irish studies, we are breaking new ground in our focus on contemporary Ireland. Our QUB colleagues recognized that Notre Dame has an important role to play as a broker in an area such as Brexit and its implications. We followed up the Belfast conference the very next week with a packed forum at Notre Dame called 'Belfast, Brexit, and Beyond: How will Brexit Affect Politics and Peace in Northern Ireland?' that featured Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, and Kevin O'Malley, United States Ambassador to Ireland from 2014 to 2017. We look forward to more opportunities to engage with many and varied audiences on contemporary questions."

A short report summarizing some of the main themes of the Belfast conference, "The Belfast 'Good Friday' Agreement and the Challenges of Brexit," can be accessed at this LINK. It was prepared by Jamie Pow, a PhD student at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen's University Belfast, and a conference participant.