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In Belfast the Stormont assembly has lain empty for over a year.
The British and Irish governments have warned that commemorations of the agreement will feel “hollow”.
Some former paramilitaries have been prosecuted, others have been co-opted.
The hardest ones to deal with, says George Hamilton, the chief constable, are those in the murky middle ground, who “want to be community workers by day and paramilitary thugs by night”.
Paramilitary gangs on both sides of the sectarian divide are active in organised crime.
Their “punishment” beatings and shootings of drug-dealers, pimps and loan-sharks purport to be for the protection of “their” communities, but often they simply want the business for themselves.
Such organisations live on because Northern Irish society is still divided.
National and religious identities are blurring, particularly among the young.Now in his 80s, Reverend Good recalls the moment: “Father Reid said to me, ‘There goes the last weapon out of Irish politics.’ We just fell silent.”Northern Ireland’s long war ended with the Belfast Agreement, signed on Good Friday in 1998.The deal between the governments of Britain and Ireland, in conjunction with the main Northern Irish parties and the paramilitaries some of them spoke for, spun a delicate web of compromises between the province’s Protestants, most of whom want to remain in the United Kingdom, and its Catholics, who more often identify with the Republic of Ireland.WHEN the Irish Republican Army at last put aside its weapons, ending a century-long insurgency against the British state, witnesses were needed to confirm that the guns were gone for good.Two clergymen were chosen, Harold Good, a Protestant, and Alec Reid, a Catholic.
The province remains astonishingly segregated (see map). Integration has deepened in the workplace, helped by laws compelling big firms to publish the religious breakdown of their staff.