22 Fordham Int'l L.J. 1145 (1998-1999)
The Belfast Agreement

handle is hein.journals/frdint22 and id is 1169 raw text is: THE BELFAST AGREEMENT
David Trimble*
A. Beginnings
The Belfast Agreement' (or Agreement) was made at
Stormont on the afternoon of April 10, 1998. For Ulster Union-
ists it was the culmination of an endeavor that stretched back
over a decade. Nearly fifteen years earlier on November 15,
1985, the British and Irish governments had entered into an-
other agreement.2 One of its principal architects, Geoffrey
Howe, the then British Foriegn Secretary, fondly believed that
he had solved the Irish problem. His Prime Minister, Margaret
Thatcher, appeared to have the more modest aim of trying to
gain greater co-operation, primarily on security matters, from
the Irish government and northern nationalists, by making sig-
nificant concessions to nationalism in the governance of North-
ern Ireland.
The Anglo-Irish Agreement, however, was a failure even in
its more modest aims. It did not result in any reduction in the
level of terrorist violence. Indeed, it was counterproductive.
The Agreement was made without any consultation with union-
ists and was imposed on them, even though it was clear that it
was opposed by them and, indeed, opposed by a majority of the
people of Northern Ireland. Because it changed the way that
Northern Ireland was governed and did so in a way immune
from Parliamentary scrutiny, it seemed to many to be merely a
precursor of more fundamental constitutional changes. Conse-
quently, it radicalized many in the Protestant working classes, re-
sulting in increased loyalist paramilitary violence.
* First Minister [Designate] of the Northern Ireland Assembly; Leader of the
Ulster Unionist Party (UUP); Nobel Laureate for Peace, 1998.
1. Agreement Reached in the Multi-Party Negotiations, Apr. 10, 1998 [hereinafter
Belfast Agreement].
2. Agreement Between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Ireland, Nov. 15, 1985,
U.K.-Ir., Cmnd. 9657, reprinted in TOM HADDEN & KEVIN BOYLE, THE ANGLO-IRISH AGREE-
MENT 15-48 (1989).


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