posted on: Wednesday February 10, 2010
Tommy Cody ’13 / World Staff
After months of heated dispute and little hope of reaching an agreement, Prime Ministers Gordon Brown of Britain and Brian Cowen of Ireland helped seal a deal between Northern Ireland’s two big political parties. The pivotal pact will transfer the province’s police and justice system from British to local control on Apr. 12, 2010. Brown and Cowen met with the leaders of the Unionist and Sinn Fein parties after the unionists, loyalists of Britain, agreed to shift in power.The transfer of powers has been a hot stove issue for years. The safety and peace of British-ruled counties of Northern Ireland still hang in the balance. The struggle between the unionists, who are in favor of British rule, and Sinn Fein, who have been steadfast in their push for a united Ireland, still creates conflicts and threatens to tear apart Northern Ireland’s power sharing government.According to The New York Times, Brown voiced his optimism about the deal in a joint news conference, “We are closing the last chapter of a long and troubled story, and we are opening a new chapter for Northern Ireland.”Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will preside over an investment conference due to be held in Belfast later this year. Clinton’s influence and aid in the negotiations between the two groups has been instrumental in reaching an accordance between them. Officials hope that the new deal will curb some of the widespread violence that has killed thousands of people over the past 30 years.According to The New York Times, Cowen dubbed the deal “an essential step for peace, stability, and security in Northern Ireland.” He was also impressed at the fact that unionists and republicans “stretched out their hands and made sure that we got over the line together.”Questions over who should control the police has been a volatile topic in the past, with Sinn Fein supporters seeing the police and courts as a tool of the unionist, and the unionists seeing their control of the police as an imperative defense against republican violence.Though Northern Ireland has taken careful and calculated steps towards solving its internal struggles, a long road still lies ahead.