The Irish Government and Peace in Northern Ireland, from Sunningdale to the Good Friday Agreement

This study is the most comprehensive account yet of how the Irish Government worked to bring the Northern Ireland conflict to an end. Based on single long-form interviews with key officials it throws new light on how tensions and problems that emerged in the search for peace were confronted and overcome to bring about the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. This first of two volumes looks at previous attempts to develop peace as with Sunningdale and the Anglo-Irish Agreement before focusing on the foundations of the peace process that followed. The interviews reveal the iterative nature of the peace process and through the voices of those on the inside provide the most dramatic and authoritative picture yet of how that process came to change the course of history. Taking the reader into the heart of the negotiating room, this study provides an invaluable series of testimonies about Irish Government efforts to end conflict in Northern Ireland.

This second of two volumes on the Irish Government’s role in forging the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and implementing the political power-sharing mechanisms and institutions that followed provides the most expansive account yet of the peace process from the Irish perspective. Drawing from extended interviews with key officials and political leaders, this volume details the challenges faced in managing the peace process to reach agreement, before working to oversee the establishment and implementation of the institutions that resulted from agreement. The interviews in this volume address key areas such a building relationships, trust, confidence, strategic management, pragmatism, engaging militant protagonists and meeting the challenges of leadership, to create a definitive picture of the issues faced by the Irish Government in the attempt to end conflict in Northern Ireland.

Abstract only

The introduction charts the efforts made to reach peace in Northern Ireland from Sunningdale to the Good Friday Agreement via the Anglo-Irish Agreement. It provides an overview of the interview chapters and the dynamics that influenced attempts to end the conflict in Northern Ireland. The introduction also explains the interview approach and highlights some of the dilemmas that come into play when interviewing.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Sean Donlon

This chapter explores the period of the Sunningdale Agreement and how the Irish Government sought to influence Sunningdale and deal with its aftermath in the wake of unionist intransigence.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Noel Dorr

This chapter explores how the Irish worked to shape the course of Sunningdale, what went wrong, what happened afterwards and how relations developed between Dublin and the British, moving towards the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the increased role of Irish involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Michael Lillis

This chapter provides a comprehensive picture of how dialogue and negotiations between the Irish and the British led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Here Michael Lillis describes his relationship with British official David Goodall and the process of engagement that led to agreement

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Daithi O’Ceallaigh

This chapter elaborates on the impact of the Anglo-Irish Agreement and how the Irish worked in Belfast to create closer ties with the British by monitoring and assessing policing and justice issues and raising questions about possible discrimination and anti-equality activities.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Sean O hUiginn

This chapter examines how the Downing Street Declaration was created and how the Irish sought to develop the peace process. In particular, it looks at the complication of text and principles as well as conceptual areas and strategy.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Martin Mansergh

This chapter details the dialogue with republicans that led to the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and how the formative stages of the peace process took shape through confidential contacts and channels

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Tim O’Connor

This chapter identifies how a consensual approach to negotiations was developed between the Irish and British Governments and how this approach informed understanding about what an agreement would look like.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I