Good Friday Agreement – 10 years on

By Paul Millar
NORTHERN Ireland has enjoyed a massive fall in unemployment and an influx of new workers in the decade since the historic Good Friday agreement, new figures show.

At the same time, the ‘peace dividend’ has seen a long-standing pattern of emigration swapped for immigration, as it attracts migrants from new European Union member states such as Poland.

Figures from Westminster dramatically illustrate the effects on both sides of the religious divide since paramilitary action ended.

Some 18,558 people claimed unemployment benefit in the four Belfast parliamentary constituencies in January 1997. By January 2008, this had fallen to 6,698 – a 64 per cent drop.

The figures emerged as politicians debate the legacy of the Good Friday agreement that restored – after several faltering starts – a devolved government and assembly to Northern Ireland.