On Friday, April 10, 1998, at 5.30 p.m., an American politician, George Mitchell, said: “I am pleased to announce that the two governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland have reached an agreement.” The British and Irish governments and most of the political parties in the North – including Sinn Féin, the SDLP and David Trimble`s UUP, which at that time was the main force in mainstream unionism. Small parties representing loyalist paramilitaries also participated in the discussions that led to the agreement. Ian Paisley`s DUP did not participate in the end-of-year interviews. Events have already taken place in Washington and New York and you will probably know much more about the historic 1998 peace agreement in the coming weeks. Former US President Bill Clinton and former Senator George Mitchell, the US envoy who helped mediate the deal, are expected to accept Belfast`s freedom at an event in the city on April 10 (the date of the deal, Easter is a mobile holiday). RTÉ`s television reports that evening showed scenes of cheering – when players from all sides realized that they might finally have reached an agreement that would ensure fragile peace. Political parties in Northern Ireland, which endorsed the agreement, were also invited to consider the creation of an independent advisory forum, with members of civil society with social, cultural, economic and other expertise, and appointed by both administrations. In 2002, a framework for the North-South Consultation Forum was agreed, and in 2006 the Northern Ireland Executive agreed to support its establishment. The agreement contained a complex set of provisions relating to a number of areas, including: the British Government has effectively gone out of the equation and neither the British Parliament nor the British people have the legal right under this agreement to impede the achievement of Irish unity if it had the agreement of the people north and south. Our nation is and will remain a nation of 32 counties.
Antrim and Down are and will remain a part of Ireland, just like any county in the South.  The idea of the agreement was to get both parties to cooperate in a group called the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly would take some decisions taken previously by the British Government in London. . . .
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