WHAT a week, eh? You would swear that the Good Friday Agreement had been cherished, exalted and promoted like the gospels themselves over the past 25 years. You would think that we had been led to the grassy uplands of peace, reconciliation and prosperity. My past 25 years have been a lot different, as the two co-guarantors abandoned the population here many years ago.

From the signing of St Andrews and restoration of the Executive in 2007, the Dublin Government turned its face South and forgot about the North until 2016. It was only with the English vote for Brexit and an existential threat to the economy of the 26 counties that Dublin resurrected its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement. In the meantime, the northern Irish population had been abandoned to the outworkings of Tory austerity which had undermined the fabric of confidence in change. The PSNI had been corrupted by RUC zealotry and a hellbent campaign by former RUC officers to rehabilitate the reputation of a force which was impugned by its collusion in the killings of civilians. The Bill of Rights became a mythical objective and a site of contest where human rights could be called contentious. Irish cultural rights were denigrated and abused to the point of ignominy. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were both responsible for this dereliction of duty.

Meanwhile, in London the extreme right  were happy to set fire to the Good Friday Agreement as they waged a war on the poor, forgetting that economic dividends were promised to a population in a region which had been devastated by economic discrimination and a conflict that had lasted decades. Successive prime ministers faced piecemeal the realities of the legacy of state crimes, but disregarded their obligations to victims, instead choosing to fight bereaved families for scraps of disclosure. And to top it all, took us out of Europe, the third guarantor of peace, against our will and with noses turned to the air when the warnings of impacts were pointed out.

In the meantime, the economic divides between North and South have grown more stark. The educational outcomes are heartbreakingly skewed so that our children are far less likely to finish second level, let alone third level, than families down the road.

Political party fortunes have changed utterly in the North as those who not only signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, but actually fought for its implementation, have been increasingly rewarded with post-Brexit votes. That is no coincidence. Recalcitrants, and those relying on glorious narratives of Castle Buildings, become less relevant by the day. Modern politics, with its significant challenges, has no place for dewy eyes fixed on the past.

The Good Friday Agreement required meaningful attention. Due to disregard by those who did not defend the GFA over the past 25 years, the three-stranded approach looks less than secure with Strand One, sited in Stormont, looking critically ill. Is it any wonder so many speak of either Irish unity or direct rule? Our population’s heads are already in a post-GFA arrangement that does not yet exist. With a return to Downing Street direct rule never having the consent of the majority again, the part of the GFA most likely to survive the next ten years is the one which provides the avenue to a new republic with the consent of the majority.