For me this anniversary is a reminder that fifteen years on very little has changed. The ongoing dispute over the flag pole at Belfast City Hall and the promise of a border poll are proof that 15 years on here in the North of Ireland our communities are still polls/poles apart.
However the continued polarisation of the communities in the north is only one aspect of the intrinsic failings of the agreement. There is no promised Bill Of Rights, and there are now more peace walls than there were when the agreement was signed. The spectre of emigration still looms large over the country. Emigration was up last year 16% on the previous 12 months with 46,500 people leaving Ireland.
When I hear mention of the Good Friday Agreement two names in particular spring to mind, Marian Price (59) and Martin Corey (63). These people have been bailed unconditionally by the courts yet remain incarcerated for their past.
Marian Price and Martin Corey are victims of the Kafkaesque justice system operating in the North of Ireland. Their treatment is in direct conflict with the many promises outlined in the Good Friday Agreement and an example of the continued erosion of the core principals of civil justice. This treatment is proof that our micro government cannot be trusted to protect the rights of all. A micro government which is manoeuvred, manipulated and meticulously managed by Cruel Britannia. Considering the failing of the Stormont regime one can see a direct correlation between what's happening here in the north and the writings of Frank Kitson.
Marian Price is held on a charge that was dismissed and then later reinstated and a charge based on third party hearsay evidence that neither she nor her legal team are privy to. This in itself is an affront to open justice as it removes all grounds for legal challenge.
The continued use of closed/secret evidence enables the government to play the national security card and when necessary drape a blanket of secrecy over wrong doing. In Marian's case this blanket among other things may be well and truly draped over the the Royal Pardon she received in 1980, a pardon the authorities claim is missing.
At present Marian's case is front of the Northern Ireland Parole Commission leaving her entirely at their mercy. They in a closed court will make their decision on whether or not Marian Price (59) should be returned to her family. The fact she has already been granted bail to them is irrelevant. To date the commissioners continue to stymie and stonewall proceedings .
the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland have themselves stated that they are not independent from the government in that they are appointed by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and can be dismissed by him. They are therefore part of the executive arm of the state and not the judicial arm of the state.
This calls into question the independence of the judiciary. Surely in the interest of justice there should be separation between the judiciary and state. What further compounds this is that in the cases of both Marian Price and Martin Corey they were granted bail yet the judiciary were overruled by the British secretary of state.
The report cited above concludes with calling for Marian's release on compassionate grounds and states 'We continue to press for the release of Marian Price and she be afforded the right to a fair trial and not treated as a political pawn in a state of exceptionalism.'