Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 5

Anglo-Irish Agreement - The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, Reaction to the Agreement, Long-term effects

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A joint agreement allowing the Irish Republic to contribute to policy in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1922, signed (15 Nov 1985) by the British and Irish prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher and Garrett Fitzgerald. It established an intergovernmental conference to discuss political, security, and legal matters affecting Northern Ireland; early meetings focused on border co-operation. Both governments pledged not to change the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the majority. The Agreement was opposed by the Republic's Opposition party, Fianna Fáil; Unionist leaders withdrew co-operation with ministers and boycotted official bodies. This boycott ended in 1992 when representatives of the main Unionist parties met with the Socialist Democratic and Labour Party, the Alliance Party, and Irish government ministers to discuss the future of talks under the Agreement. The Agreement was instrumental in leading to the ‘Downing Street Declaration’ of 1993 which argued for self-determination for all the people of Ireland, and also the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement.

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