[IWAR] IRELAND peace agreement

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Fri Apr 10 1998 - 10:09:50 PDT

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    April 10, 1998
     N.Ireland Agreement Reached
     Filed at 12:50 p.m. EDT
     By The Associated Press
     BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Heralding a new era of cooperation in a land
    torn by national
     allegiance and religion, politicians reached a comprehensive accord Friday on
     British-ruled Northern Ireland. 
     The breakthrough -- the biggest political development since conflict engulfed
    Northern Ireland in
     1969 -- capped a weeklong negotiating marathon driven by the American talks
    chairman, George
     Mitchell, and the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland, Tony Blair and
    Bertie Ahern. 
     The announcement came on Good Friday, more than 17 hours past a midnight
    deadline set by
     Mitchell to force the pace in the negotiations, which began 22 months ago
    after years of
     The British government said leaders of the eight participating parties
    wouldn't be required to sign
     the accord. 
     The agreement, subject to approval by voters in both parts of Ireland next
    month, offers at least a
     hope of ending a conflict that has claimed more than 3,400 lives in Northern
    Ireland, the Irish
     Republic and Britain. 
     The key points of this agreement, if implemented, will mean substantial
    changes to relations
     between Britain and the Republic of Ireland and especially to Northern
    Ireland, where the two
     nations' interests and identities have overlapped for decades. 
     Protestants and Catholics will be expected to govern their land of 1.6 million
    people together in a
     108-member assembly. That would end 26 years of ``direct rule'' from London,
    instituted after the
     British abolished a Protestant-dominated parliament that had governed Northern
    Ireland since its
     creation in 1921. 
     Critically, the new Belfast assembly will be expected to cooperate formally
    with the Irish Republic
     in a north-south council of lawmakers. This measure is considered essential to
    win support from
     the north's Catholics, who generally favor the unification of Ireland. 
     But the Protestant bloc appeared to have won a substantial concession, because
    the Belfast
     assembly will have the right to approve decisions taken by its members in the
    cross-border council.
     Catholics had pushed for the council to wield independent powers. 
     The IRA-allied Sinn Fein party -- brought into the talks eight months ago
    following an Irish
     Republican Army truce -- appears to have accepted the agreement, which stops
    so far short of its
     traditional goal of uniting Ireland. 
     Before the accord was announced, however, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he
    would need
     the formal approval of grass-roots members of the party. 
     The Ulster Unionists, Northern Ireland's main pro-British Protestant party,
    also will face stern
     opposition from Protestants who suspect that any settlement will concede too
    much to those
     seeking Irish unification. 
     The accord will have to be approved by majority votes next month in both
    Northern Ireland and
     the Irish Republic, where voters also will be asked to approve the softening
    of their constitution's
     territorial claim to Northern Ireland. 
     The agreement specified that the amended claim would emphasize the right of
    people in either part
     of Ireland to consider themselves Irish -- but that Ireland would be united
    only when a clear
     majority of people in Northern Ireland wants it to happen. 
     The constitution now claims the whole island and calls for ``reintegration of
    the national territory.'' 
     The agreement does not mean a certain end to shootings and bombings in
    Northern Ireland, since
     dissidents have already broken away from both the IRA and those pro-British
    paramilitary groups
     observing truces as a condition for participating in the talks. 
     In the case of the IRA, past truces have always triggered damaging splits
    between pragmatists like
     Adams and those determined to fight to the end against Britain and the north's
    dwindling Protestant
     President Clinton was up in the early hours Friday morning keeping tabs on the
    talks, White House
     spkesman Mike McCurry said. Clinton made telephone calls to Blair, Ahern,
    Adams and
     moderate Catholic leader John Hume, and also spoke to Mitchell during the
    night, McCurry said.
     B E L F A S T, Northern Ireland, April 10 On Good
     Friday, negotiators have finally reached a peace
     accord that could end 30 years of violence in
     Northern Ireland. 
     British Prime Minister Tony Blair heralded the agreement
     as a victory over Northern Irelands bloody past. But he
     quickly pointed out that the agreement was only the first step
     of a long process to the prize of peace.
     Today is only the beginning, said Blair. The work to
     win that prize goes on. We cannot, we must not let it slip
     from our grasp.
     Blair quickly outlined the main victories of the agreement,
     citing the right of unionists to be British as long as the majority
     in Northern Ireland chooses it and accepting the aspirations
     of nationalists to unite Ireland.
     Irish Prime Minister Berie Ahern followed Blair to the
     podium and emphasized the need to leave Irelands bloody
     history in the past.
     Our shared past left us with many bitter legacies, said
     Ahern. If the focus on these islands remains on the past, the
     past will become the future, and that is something no one
     As difficult as the negotations for the accord have been,
     the tough work lies ahead. All the parties must now go to
     their constituencies and convince them to vote for the accord
     in a referendum in late May. 
     Deal a Result of Hard Negotiations
     At daybreak, the eight
     participating parties mapping
     Northern Irelands future
     received a revised draft
     agreement, running 69 pages,
     from Mitchell, who has overseen
     the Belfast talks for 22
     often-deadlocked months.
     Mitchells call last month for
     negotiators to reach a pact by
     midnight Thursday has inspired
     two weeks of intense
     negotiations at Stormont, the
     center of British administration in east Belfast. 
     Clinton Weighs in
     President Bill Clinton held a series of telephone discussions
     during the night with the parties involved in marathon talks on
     a Northern Ireland peace deal, the White House said today.
     Clinton had two conversations with Gerry Adams, leader
     of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army,
     to encourage him to agree to a peace agreement between
     Catholics and Protestants on the British-ruled province.
     Were at a very critical moment right now, said White
     House spokesman Mike McCurry. It looks like things are
     going well. 
     Making History
     The leaders of Britain and Ireland held last-ditch talks with
     local politicians aimed at sealing a historic deal for the British
     province, site of one of the worlds most enduring guerrilla
     If people concentrate and are as determined as we are,
     then we can complete all of this work today, said Irish Prime
     Minister Bertie Ahern, even as he conceded that stumbling
     blocks remained.
     A spokesman for Tony Blair said the British premier
     sensed history in the making.
     He feels that there is an irresistible force and an
     immovable object and that the irresistible force will prevail,
     said the aide. There is energy in there. There is a will...there
     has been progress. 
     The Deal Can Still Be Done 
     Yet until the deadline concentrated minds, 21 months of
     negotiations had produced little visible sign of progress
     between pro-British and pro-Irish parties, whose constituents
     have endured years of violence in the name of politics and
     While officials stressed a deal was not a given, few could
     contemplate heading into the long Easter weekend having
     missed a once in a generation opportunity for peace. The
     so-called Troubles have already claimed more than 3,200
     lives and few can stomach the idea of more.
     Its a cliff-hanger. Were waiting for someone to blink,
     said one Irish nationalist at the talks.
     John Alderdice, leader of the moderate Alliance Party,
     told Reuters: Time is beginning to press somewhat and
     weve quite a lot to get through ...But the deal can still be
     Even pro-British politician John Taylor, who vowed early
     this week not to touch a draft deal with a 40-foot barge pole,
     talked of a big breakthrough in the night. 
     Pressure Mounting on Trimble 
     Yet as Catholic and Protestant parties talked peace, the
     threat of violencewhich has never fully left Northern Ireland
     in 30 yearsresurfaced.
     Police arrested two men and a woman after the discovery
     of a small quantity of explosives in a staunchly pro-British
     area of the eastern port of Larne.
     Inside the talks, pressure mounted on David Trimble, the
     Ulster Unionist leader who is pivotal in determining whether a
     new accord can be reached with his Irish nationalist foes.
     Trimble faced the toughest day of his career and had to
     make a crucial judgment: whether any deal he signs will be
     bought by his staunchly pro-British supporters.
     Trimble missed a deadline to present his case to a meeting
     of his 100-strong executive council in Belfast earlier today.
     A talks participant who asked not to be identified said a
     deal was now more likely than unlikely following significant
     moves by Trimbles party in the night.
      He would not elaborate.
    On the Table in Belfast:
      There has been no official news about the proposal being debated at Stormont
      Castle, but sources tell ABCNEWS.com that the following points are probably
      being negotiated: 
      New Northern Assembly 
                   The proposal would call for an assembly to handle
                   governmental matters concerning Northern Ireland.
                   Republicans want it to have more power. Unionists want it to
                   have less. 
      Cross-Border Cooperation 
                   The two sides agree on the need for a council to handle
                   concerns that traverse borders, such as roads,fisheries and
                   agriculture. They disagree on whether the council should be
                   subordinate to a Northern Ireland assembly (Unionists) or will
                   operate independently of that power-sharing body
      Political Prisoner Release and Paramilitary Disarmament 
                   Amnesty for each sides political prisoners irks Unionists who
                   are unhappy with the sheer number of Republican prisoners
                   who would be sprung. Unionists also want more measures
                   guaranteeing the disarmament of paramilitary groups like the
                   Irish Republican Army. 

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