Death… of an Agreement? – By Glenn Bradley

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I am in a place of lament. My mum Rachel (Ray) was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in Jan this year and the disease is ravaging her.

It has now spread to her pancreas & stomach.

My second grandchild, her great grandchild, was due on Monday 21st and is now overdue.

I think my mum is bravely hanging in there to hear and see the new born member of our clan.

The circle of life: being born, living and dying – dying actually on a death bed because none of us is getting out of here alive.

Mum was 19 when she gave birth to me.

I was born into that era of recent violence which began in 1966 and led to a civil uprising and armed actions that heaped suffering on many. Indeed until the cessations of 1994 and then 1997 I’d known only violence or a violent way of life.

The “great”, the “good” largely the self righteous, you know the whited sepulchre types, try tell me it was all “our fault” – that we’d a choice, that we didn’t have to defend, attack, kill, maim or cause mayhem in the notion of Nation or Identity or Rights.

As I look back, particularly in conversations with Mum on her death bed, I think conflict was inevitable and that it was intensified, then prolonged through armchair generals, gung-ho machoism & sectarian egotists playing their little low intensity “game” of war.

There are some today who refuse to accept the compromises reached in 1994, 1997 and since. Some itch for a return to violence so they can wallow in their self righteous “we told you so” or the deluded belief that the question mark regarding long term sovereignty here can be achieved through violence: violence cannot solve the issues here.

Yet, all the issues can be resolved.

The template for it all was previously negotiated, agreed and outlined in the Belfast Agreement (the Good Friday Agreement).

Her Majesty’s Government opted for compromise and along with the Irish Government, came to the table to reach an honourable settlement with representatives of the Political Parties here.

Citizens then ratified the settlement and it paved the way for political aspirations to be achieved through the power of persuasion with parity of esteem, and equality for Citizens at it’s core.

It was George Bernard Shaw who wrote “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

We, the people, are the change we seek.

To evolve society and reconcile ourselves it is our ideas, our words, our deeds that can change our small world here. It takes us all to be gracious, to demand politics delivers on quality of life issues and it takes us to ask what legacy shall we create for our grand-children?

Devolution is not dead. Government is essential. The honourable compromise that was the Belfast Agreement will not die!


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About Author

Glenn Bradley was born in 1967 in west Belfast. A peace-line child who served in the British Army. He is now an International businessman working with Trade Unions; NGOs & Corporates advocating Ethical Trade.


  1. Jake Mac Siacais (@MacSiacais) on

    Cumhachtach agus lán mhothúcháin láidre. Powerful passionate piece. The status quo ante which served none died and should stay buried. Long live the era of change!

  2. A very moving piece Glenn. There is a great deal to provoke those open to what was promised but never achieved, if only they would listen. Yes we do need government, we all agreed but to this day, twenty years later, not all have honoured the GFA, what are they waiting for? All the best Glenn to you and your family.

    • Thank you Jean.

      I write as I sit overnight in the Ulster with our Kerri (she is my sister who has hydrocephalus & is totally deaf). She collapsed yesterday – whole situ with Mum a massive drain on mind & body.

      So mum is in 6c dying. She should be in a hospice but they can’t get her admitted – combo of austerity inefficiencies, Trust transfer red tape bureaucracy & waiting lists.

      Kerri is in 15a. A handicapped 41 year old with a mental capacity of 9 in a mixed ward of high dependency OAPs.

      Staff do their best and are a credit to the wonderful NHS but what I’ve witnessed these last 4 weeks has completely shocked me.

      We all, each & every one of us, deserve so much better than the snarling arrogance, prejudice, hatred & absolute utter failure on quality of life matters some politicians have been delivering for 20 years.

      Change is required immediately, this day.

      Respect for the democratic mandate of the Belfast Agreement in full and unequivocally, is the main delivery needed. That with a little grace and a mindset to future thought, words & action will change the dynamic of this place for the sustainable & positive better.

      Once again, thank you for your wishes.

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