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Northern Ireland - Discussions between the British Prime Minister, John Major, and the Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, resulted in the issue of the 'Downing Street Declaration' on the 15th of December 1993.

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Introduction

The Search For a Settlement In The 1990's By Suzie Keevil 11N Questions 1) Discussions between the British Prime Minister, John Major, and the Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, resulted in the issue of the 'Downing Street Declaration' on the 15th of December 1993. The key features of this were as follows: ~ Both agreed that it was the people of Ireland, by the agreement of the two parties respectively, to 'exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish' ~ Both governments agreed to give 'full respect for the rights and identities of both traditions of Ireland' ~ Cross-party talks would be set up - but only those who parties that condemned violence were permitted to join. Moderate Nationalists welcomed the declaration because it seemed that the British government accepted the possibility of a united Ireland. But this apparent shift in British policy worried the Unionists because the British government no longer appeared determined to keep Northern Ireland as a part of the United Kingdom. In the following months, Albert Reynolds put pressure on Sinn Fein to renounce violence and seek a democratic and political settlement to the conflict. When Gerry Adams visited the USA in February 1994, he was treated as a celebrity, but the support he received from Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy and other leading politicians was dependant on Sinn Fein pursuing peaceful, rather than violent policies. ...read more.

Middle

Further progress with the peace process negotiations was stalled by the IRA's refusal to decommission their weapons. Despite the intervention of the US Senator George Mitchell, who was perceived as being an outstanding peacemaker and negotiator, a compromise could not be reached. As a result of this, the IRA ended their ceasefire by exploding a bomb near the Canary Wharf building in London in February 1996. The bomb claimed two lives, caused one billion pounds worth of damage, and left a very uncertain future for the peace process. The IRA continued its bombing campaign and in June 1996 destroyed the centre of Manchester in an explosion that injured 200 people. 4) In March 1998 the Senator George Mitchell decided that the 'time for discussion is over'. He set a deadline of the 9th of April for all parties to reach agreement on the future of Northern Ireland. As the deadline drew nearer, all night discussions took place involving all parties and, eventually, Tony Blair and Iris Taoisech Bertie Ahern. Then, finally at 5:36pm on Saturday the 10th of April, Senator Mitchell announced the contents of the Good Friday Agreement between the British government, the Dublin government and the main Northern Ireland political parties, including Sinn Fein (which had renounced violence). The key features of the Good Friday Agreement were as follows: ~ The state of Northern Ireland was legitimate and would remain part of the United Kingdom ...read more.

Conclusion

became his deputy. A bombing that occurred on the 12th of July in County Antrin killed three boys. Another in Omagh killed 24 people. These two bombings only helped to make politicians in Northern Ireland even more determined to make the Agreement work. It was not until the 2nd of December that the Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time. The continuation of punishment beatings and the failure of the IRA to decommission weapons had slowed down the process considerably. In November 1998, Senator Mitchell had helped to draft a proposal that initiated decommissioning after the Northern Ireland Assembly met for the first time. The pressure on both Sinn Fein and the IRA mounted when Mitchell said any failure to decommission would 'leave this society uncertain and vulnerable'. The Ulster Unionist Party eventually agreed to the proposal with David Trimble adding, 'we have done our bit, Mr Adams, it is over to you. We have jumped, you follow'. Between the 11th of February and the 5th of June 1999 the Northern Ireland Assembly was temporarily suspended. Power returned to the new Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson, after the UUP grew tired of waiting for any progress on Ira decommissioning. Following a statement by the IRA that would begin 'a process that will completely and verifiably put the IRA arms beyond use' and permit neutral inspectors to regularly monitor their arms dumps, David Trimble and the UUP agreed to return to the Northern Ireland Assembly. ...read more.

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