Northern Ireland`s leaders face difficult challenges in providing basic services and managing denominational divisions. One of the most urgent tasks is to improve health services, which have become increasingly mired in crisis after the collapse of local authorities. About three hundred thousand people – about one-sixth of the population – were on waiting lists for health care by the end of 2019, and nurses and other employees went on strike in December of that year to protest lower wages than the rest of the UK. Until February 2020, many health unions had agreed with the government on higher wages and other demands on whether the health sector was on a sustainable path but remains open. The vague wording of some so-called “constructive ambiguities” helped ensure the adoption of the agreement and delayed debate on some of the most controversial issues. These include extra-military dismantling, police reform and the standardisation of Northern Ireland. But what, for trade unionists, should also, if not more, affect the revival of southern irredentism? In addition to the number of signatories[Note 1], Stefan Wolff identifies the following similarities and differences between the themes discussed in the two agreements: The key to discussions was to ensure that social justice issues are addressed by the new decentralized government and that neither community favours the other. The total abandonment of violence was also considered crucial. The DUP has partially ruled itself out because it believes that Sinn Féin was not sincere about being violent and that its leaders itself were guilty of terrorist acts.
On the other hand, the inclusion of Sinn Féin as the Republican Party with the largest number of votes was crucial to the success of the talks. But when the DUP replaced the UUP as the most popular Unionist party in the next elections, it became crucial to include the DUP. The result was the St Andrews Agreement, which gave rise to further assurances that convinced Ian Paisley not only to approve the power-sharing agreement, but also to assume the office of Prime Minister. These themes – parades, flags and the legacy of the past – were negotiated in 2013 under the chairmanship of Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Meghan L. O`Sullivan, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School and now on the CFR board. The talks involving the five main political parties were not agreed upon, although many of these proposals – including the creation of a historic investigation unit to investigate unsolved deaths during the conflict and a commission to help victims obtain information about the deaths of their loved ones – were a large part of the Stormont House agreement reached in 2014. On June 5, 2008, Paisley retired as Prime Minister and DUP leadership and was replaced by Peter Robinson in both positions.
In the third Northern Ireland Executive, the political relationship between Robinson and McGuinness was the same as before between Paisley and McGuinness.