According to independent investigations, 158 “safety-related” deaths have been recorded in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement, concluded in 1998, provided a framework for a political solution in Northern Ireland regarding the division of power between unionists and nationalists. It was signed by the British and Irish governments, as well as by four of Northern Ireland`s main political parties: Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party. Of the major parties, only the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) abstained. Although the agreement confirms that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, it provides that Ireland can be united if it is supported by majorities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Ending the Troubles in Northern Ireland stopped the enormous violence, but activities at a lower level continued. Earlier this month, loyalist supporters renewed their opposition to crime. However, Paul Nolan reports that the murders that followed the 1998 Belfast Agreement have not completely stopped, while few perpetrators have ever been convicted. Mr Nolan told Good Morning Ulster that with the exception of the Omagh bomb, the pattern of paramilitary killings had changed since the 1998 agreement. Commentator Alex Kane said it had been very clear since the late 1990s that the UK would “do everything in its power to ensure that SF stays in the existing peace process.” He believes “increasingly that British governments have not used their military and political power” to “destroy the IRA,” “to find a solution that the IRA and Sinn Fein would buy.” The homicide rate associated with the provisional movement has shocked some experienced observers and is reported here in the week that Sinn Feins Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy is accused of covering up IRA members involved in the 2007 assassination of Paul Quinn in south Armagh. Although it is not possible to give precise figures, a detailed survey conducted by the Irish Independent in 2005 gave a detailed profile of 39 isolated murders committed by IRA members from the 1994 IRA ceasefire to that date.
If that were the case, it would mean 26 murders since the Good Friday agreement. In total, Nolan said Republicans had lived through 74 people and claimed 71 loyalists since the deal that was expected to bring lasting peace. It took another four years to reach a peace agreement, but on Good Friday 1998, optimism was renewed.