People in Northern Ireland will continue to live in an "imperfect situation" until the British government stops claiming sovereignty over the North, according to former republican activist Danny Morrison.

Mr Morrison, a former editor of An Phoblacht, a former MLA, and now a writer, says he believes "the British government's interference in our affairs was the cause of the conflict in the first place".

Speaking on The Week in Politics Podcast to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, he said: "from my point of view, the conflict arose as a result of an explosion of 50 years of second-class citizenship".

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said the agreement could never have been reached without John Hume and David Trimble

He said looking at the agreement now, 25 years after it was signed, he views it as a "work in progress".

Speaking on the same podcast, Stephen Grimason, a former BBC Northern Ireland political editor, described the years leading up to the signing of the agreement in 1998 as a "horrific, horrendous time".

"Because of the efforts of everyone around the table there are probably nearly 2,500 people walking around in Northern Ireland today, and maybe another 10 or 15,000 walking around today who are alive. Was it all worth it? Yes, it absolutely was," he said.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt said the agreement could never have been reached without John Hume and David Trimble. He said both men knew that they would likely pay a high political price.

"John Hume’s attitude was the people first and the party second. Both he and David Trimble had deputies, who were warning them that if you go down this path and accept this agreement, you will do huge damage to your party."

Mr Nesbitt said it is impossible to forget the huge sense of optimism which was shared by everyone in Northern Ireland on the day the agreement was reached.

"For the first time since partition, every group, every community in Northern Ireland could have a sense of purchase and agency in the future of the country, which had never happened before. And that I think was the genius of that document."

Mr Grimason said effectively both parties, the SDLP and the UUP, were "broken on the wheel of the peace process".

He said: "People talk about architects of the peace process. I think there was only one architect, John Hume. But there were a number of contractors who came in on foot of that."

Mr Grimason was the first journalist to get a copy of the final text after the agreement was reached on 10 April 1998, and described it as possibly the greatest "pinch me moment" he has ever had.

"You're holding it in your hand, and you are not just holding a piece of paper, but you have that sense that you might be holding the future of this place in your hand."

Irish Times columnist Justine McCarthy said prior to the agreement there was a sense that Northern Ireland was an intractable problem that would go on and on.

She said the day that Bertie Ahern came back to Stormont after his mother's funeral was a moment where everyone realised the lengths that people were prepared to go to to hammer out a deal.

"All the camera operators and photographers put down their equipment, and there was silence as Bertie Ahern walked towards the door.

"And then one journalist, Eamonn Mallie, spoke on behalf of all the journalists present and offered condolences on behalf of the press.

"It was a very moving moment because you realised the risks and the extent that people were going to try and secure what seemed like fantasy, that we could have peace at last," Ms McCarthy said.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, US Senator George Mitchell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the Good Friday Agreement announcement in 1998

Looking towards the future Mr Morrison says "legacy" remains the one big issue that cannot be resolved. He said that it is the one issue that is "bedevilling" the peace process.

"There is no conflict in the world where the victims get justice in the end. This is the one issue that is insuperable, and I do not have the answer and I don't think there is an answer."

Mr Nesbitt said the parties in the north need to realise "there is no alternative to power sharing."

He described the strategy of collapsing the executive in the hope of extracting concessions as "flawed."

MrGrimason said 25 years ago, everybody was "obsessed with drawing a line under the violence," but now people are more ambitious.

"People have come to expect a bit more than that. They would like to have their politicians seriously deal with the health service with education with all those sorts of things, so that their children who can have a stake in the future of this place, have a real stake in terms of being able to grow and thrive."

Ms McCarthy said looking back at the Northern Ireland of 25 years ago it is impossible not to think of everyone as a victim. "There was an unjust society and that was untenable and makes it all the more unbelievable that any peace agreement could be reached."

"My fear for the future is that the old guard that negotiated the peace agreement is passing on. There's a new generation who really do not have that understanding of what they have been saved from and therefore may be less likely to protect what was hard fought for. I hope they will."