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Ex-prisoners debate 1998 Agreement peace deal

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Good Friday Agreement. 'Yes' celebration. John Hume (SDLP), Bono (U2), David Trimble (UUP) and Tim Wheeler (Ash).  19/5/1998

Good Friday Agreement. 'Yes' celebration. John Hume (SDLP), Bono (U2), David Trimble (UUP) and Tim Wheeler (Ash). 19/5/1998

Good Friday Agreement. 'Yes' celebration. John Hume (SDLP), Bono (U2), David Trimble (UUP) and Tim Wheeler (Ash). 19/5/1998

Former republican and loyalist prisoners will today debate the historic political deal of 1998, coming together in a conference under the heading 'A Better Friday Agreement'.

One of the organisers, Seanna Walsh, delivered the words of the IRA endgame statement in 2005. He spent more than 20 years in jail.

Loyalists Jackie McDonald and William 'Plum' Smith will also speak at the conference in the Linen Hall Library.

It has been organised by the republican ex-prisoner project Coiste na nlarchimi.

Smith is a former Red Hand Commando prisoner who chaired the 1994 loyalist ceasefire news conference.

He said: "We need to look at what has worked, what hasn't worked and how we can fix it.

"The Good Friday Agreement was a good agreement as a mechanism to take us out of the past."

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MLAs Conall McDevitt and Alex Maskey will also speak at the conference, as will Martin Mansergh, who had a key Dublin role in the developing peace process, and John Steele, who is a former Controller of Prisons and director of security policy in the NIO.

Mr McDonald said the Good Friday Agreement had been "rushed through" and now needs to be "revisited".

"We haven't gone from beginning to end," he told this newspaper.


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