Green Party NI leader Mal O'Hara reflects back on 25 year since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement: 

"Reflecting back on 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement has brought with it a huge dose of nostalgia for any of us with the grey hairs to prove that we experienced the hope and possibility that washed across Northern Ireland in 1998.

"I was a fresh faced 18 year old when the Good Friday Agreement was signed. I had grown up in a part of North Belfast that had suffered far more than its fair share of violence. There should be no romanticising that period in our history - it was a terrible time, bombs and bullets on the street but also intolerance, coercive control and domestic violence accepted as a part of everyday life.  

"The Good Friday Agreement ushered in a new and more peaceful period, with countless deaths prevented most crucially. The promise was palpable.

"However, 25 years since then, the promise has fallen flat. Today, sectarianism, societal division and political instability dominate. The peace process has been managed out as a political process with parties strengthening their power bases through a series of behind closed door deals.

"Those political deals have reinforced the position of the major political parties expense of the spirit of inclusivity that existed in 1998. The St Andrews Agreement altered the Good Friday Agreement without the consent of wider society. The Stormont House Agreement and of course the Fresh Start Agreement did much the same.

"The Executive fell within nine months of Fresh Start and remained collapsed for three years. More recently, New Decade New Approach ushered the Executive back with a huge wish list of unfunded and unfulfilled policy promises. 

"And today, as we are all too painfully aware, stalemate has gripped Stormont once again. And all the while, the NHS waiting list crisis is out of all control and lives are blighted by a multitude of crises including climate breakdown, cost of living spiraling out of all control and our young people finding it harder and harder to access quality, affordable housing. 

"The inability of our politics to deal with the legacy of our violent past means that victims and survivors are going to the grave without truth or justice and trauma is simply passed from generation to generation. 

"I continue to strive for a fairer society, something that lives up to the promise of 1998. However, we must shift back to the spirit of inclusivity that enabled progress back then. That means breaking the bind of the three party state - an arrangement with wasn't envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement and one that clearly doesn't deliver good government.  

"I want people to be given a voice on important issues through the use of citizen assemblies and structural reform that makes politics more effective and sustainable. The politics of stalemate, crisis and boycott offers nothing for our ceasefire babies."

Mal O'Hara concluded" 

"Our young people deserve to feel the positivity and promise in politics that I felt as an 18 year old. This time however, we need bravery and commitment to translate promise into politics and bring better times for all of our citizens."