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Quite the love-in has been going on for the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA). We’ve had radio interviews with veterans of the peace process like Bertie Ahern, Paddy Teahon, the UK’s Jonathan Powell, and Martin Mansergh.

Bill Clinton is flying in to feel the Irish love, once more, and quite frankly some of those stories are beginning to sound very familiar.

Fair enough. The agreement was a perfect storm in conflict resolution : the right time, the right personalities, a willing and politically secure UK Government and the relentless oversight of the United States speaking softly and carrying a big stick.

But the DUP opposed the agreement, as did the elements of the Ulster Unionist party and that should not be forgotten Especially if you want to understand what is happening now

And what is happening now is not good: a deep freeze on relations within Northern Ireland with little prospect of Stormont being revived or of the North getting anything other than direct rule from London, regardless of what Sinn Fein or the Irish Government says.

So forgive me for being cynical at the orgy of self-satisfaction about GFA, especially when the veterans have no clear advice or new advice on the way forward, except tired platitudes about ‘increasing trust’ and ‘seizing the moment’.

Worse than that, the notion that the Good Friday Agreement was some nirvana-type breakthrough and the only show in town may be a large part of the problem. It certainly is for the Irish Government.

This is because Dublin abandoned the back stop of the Anglo Irish Agreement (AAI), replacing it with the GFA, in the full belief that peace would blossom and the parents of London and Dublin could step back completely.

Remember the AAI ? This was the less glamourous agreement signed by the two Governments in 1985 whereby they would effectively run Northern Ireland, as the parties there were incapable of doing so and the radical opposites of Sinn and the DUP were completely outside the process.

The AAI was a major concession by British premier Margaret Thatcher and gave the Irish Government a strong institutional say in NI. There was a full secretariat in Maryfield run by Irish and British officials and another team working in Dublin, with oversight on everything from everything from board appointments to security.

Certainly, the removal of the AAI (and its replacement by the GFA) was a matter of great jubilation for the Unionists in 1998, after 13 years of direct Dublin oversight – and as many years of ‘Ulster Says No’ protests and non-cooperation.

With good reason. But now that the GFA has lapsed and the parties, and the parties show no willingness to compromise on getting Stormont back, the Irish Government is stuck without the strong AAI to fall back on. And Dubln’s demands that we don’t just have a return to direct rule will fall on deaf ears.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has been repeatedly rebuffed in his attempts to revive the Stormont talks and not have the Dublin Government shut out.

But quite frankly, the most we can ask for now, from a Dublin perspective, is a continuation of the consultative, advisory say on matters within NI and a co chairperson role in trying to get the parties to share power.

Demands that we not just have direct rule from Westminster are hopelessly optimistic. Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin, for example, refers to the North South Ministerial Council ‘as a way in which this could be done’. But that is all it is – ‘a way in which this could be done’.

And this Council, and the other North-South aspects of the GFA, have nothing like the power and structure that the Anglo Irish Agreement had.

So Dublin threw away its AAI ace in 1998 in the expectation that the GFA would create continuous winnings for everyone in Northern Ireland, and all of Ireland. But instead it means that the DUP and even the British now hold all the best cards.

Not a clever game for Dublin to play in the continuous poker game that is Northern Ireland.

Maybe we should put the champagne on ice for a while.

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