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25 Years Ago – This “Impossible” Happened…

25 Years Ago – This “Impossible” Happened…

Time to Make Happen – Months of Hard Work
Time to Read – Just over a minute

Naked Leader Week 1018 – 10 April 2023

The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was a significant peace accord signed on April 10, 1998, between the British and Irish governments, and the political parties in Northern Ireland. It was a landmark moment in the peace process for Northern Ireland, which helped to bring an end to decades of sectarian conflict.

Mark Durkin was two when the conflicts took hold, and thirty when the agreement was signed. He summed up the period with the scary phrase – “It made the abnormal, normal:

• Being stopped and searched by armed soldiers

• Walking past burning cars, buses and buildings

• Hearing the sounds of gunfire, bombs and violence long into the night”

Mark listed some of the key people who overcame incredible odds, including threats to their lives, to achieve the agreement, including:

Mo Mowlam: Who won over prisoners in captivity, while fighting cancer

Tony Blair: The British Prime Minister at the time

Bertie Ahern: The Taoiseach of Ireland, who worked closely with Blair to bring the parties together

George Mitchell: A former US senator who was appointed by the British and Irish governments to chair the negotiations

Gerry Adams: The leader of Sinn Féin, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who played a key role in the negotiations on behalf of the Republican side

David Trimble: The leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, who represented the Unionist side in the negotiations

In many ways the the by Martin McGuinness, a former leader in Sinn Féin and a key figure in the Irish Republican movement, shaking the hand of Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Northern Ireland in 2012. 

Mark is now The Executive Dean of Ulster University Business School, the University chosen by President Joe Biden to host his visit to Northern Ireland.

Mark summed up the key leadership lesson for him:

“Many people thought any accord would be impossible, and I didn’t think I’d see a sustainable agreement negotiated in my lifetime. To me it proved what is possible with collective leadership – the power of a few people, with total focus, belief and working as one, to achieve literally anything.”

With my thanks to Mark and my love and best wishes to you all



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