Ruth Sloan, Chair of the Northern Ireland Ale Campaign, said: “CAMRA NI is pleased that Stormont is back up and running and welcomes a commitment to the New Decade, a new approval agreement to reform outdated licensing laws, which currently mean that businesses, pub visitors and tourists are at a greater disadvantage here than anywhere else on these islands.” Of course, the devil is in the details, and we will continue to look at the document in its entirety, in the hope that a bipartisan agreement can create a lasting government. Late last year, NICVA asked its members for a large number of topics that are now covered by the agreement. There was a consensus that the number of departments is currently too high, and 90% of respondents said there should be eight or fewer departments. 61% wanted to abolish the compulsory coalition, 71% an official opposition. As a result, progress has been made in this regard. The signing of the agreement was widely supported by the majority of Northern Ireland`s political parties, but not by the Ulster Unionist Party and external governments. However, the Northern Ireland trade union movement did not give much support to the agreement, which led a series of protests and public meetings against the agreement, and the majority of public service unions affiliated with the ICTU held a one-day strike on 13 March.  After eleven weeks of discussions in Stormont, this agreement was reached with Northern Ireland`s political leaders, which offers a new approach to some of the most difficult issues of the past in Northern Ireland. It offers a new beginning and a much more hopeful future, but it will still need hard work to ensure that it keeps its promise. “The Government of the United Kingdom and Ireland has just published the text of a draft agreement to restore and reshape the Northern Ireland executive. After three years without a government and months of discussion, we have reached the point where political parties have been asked to approve an agreement to address the challenges of the public service and to restore decision-making by the NI Assembly. The agreement was ubiquitous and included a wide range of topics.
The agreement exists and is part of the paradigm established by previous peace agreements signed between 1998 and 2007. After many extensions of time and hours of fruitless discussion, the 62-language document entitled “New Decade, New Approach” is the last chance for northern Ireland`s political parties to reach an agreement.