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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.

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.

An interview with Sean Donlon

Graham Spencer: Can you give me some background on your involvement in Northern Ireland? Sean Donlon: When the Troubles started in late 1968 the Irish Government was not administratively structured in any way to deal with the situation. The older generation of politicians thought they knew it all themselves because they had been involved in the 1920s and since some of them came from Northern Ireland they didn’t feel the need to have any professional Civil Service assistance. The Department of Foreign

in Inside Accounts, Volume I

, who claimed it provided the Dublin government with an undue influence in Northern Ireland’s affairs. Many unionists also interpreted this proposal as a stepping stone to a united Ireland. Scholars remain divided over what functions various actors attached to the proposed Council of Ireland, and how it might have developed if established. A number of accounts have retrospectively endorsed the contemporary loyalist claim that the Irish government indeed intended to use the Council to absorb Northern Ireland into the Republic. Christopher Farrington has argued that the

in Template for peace
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reintroduction of British troops on the streets of Northern Ireland. Aided by state security forces (the RUC and B-Specials), unionist civilians attacked nationalist neighbourhoods, leading to defensive barricades being thrown up during what became known as the Battle of the Bogside. The Irish Government’s profound interest in the conflagration was counterbalanced by its apparent inability to influence the course of events. During a meeting two weeks before the Battle of the Bogside, the British had made it clear to Patrick Hillery that ‘responsibility for this area rests with

in From Partition to Brexit

, Reynolds sought to give the republican leadership enough to persuade their members that a political initiative aimed at securing national self-determination, and prosecuted by an alliance of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Irish Government and Irish America, could achieve far more than armed struggle. Such an alliance, frequently dubbed a ‘pan-nationalist front’ by those who opposed or feared it, would, its supporters maintained, provide the republican leadership with a cogent case for unarmed struggle. Reynolds’s concept of a peace process attracted vitriolic attacks from

in From Partition to Brexit

a majority desired. Thus the analysis of its policy documents, particularly the 1972 Green Paper, The Future of Northern Ireland: A Paper for Discussion, the March 1973 White Paper, The Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals, and the reactions of local parties to those documents, provide the context in which the executive was formed and the December 1973 Sunningdale Agreement was concluded. The Sunningdale settlement was a significant development in the relationships between the British and Irish governments, and the elected representatives of Northern Ireland

in Template for peace

US military personnel through Shannon provided Muslims with the right to attack Ireland (McCaffrey 2005 ). In 2006 a controversial Islamic cleric, Omar Bakri Mohammad, urged that Dublin Airport be attacked, during a secretly taped conversation with members of a British anti-terrorist group, Vigil (Brady 2006b). But the Irish government has not wavered in its position. In November 2004, when some 20

in Re-evaluating Irish national security policy
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of the seats. If the loyalists would not yield on power-sharing at all, this could, the SDLP felt, be the occasion for the British to withdraw.16 The SDLP were anxious to know how the Irish Government would be involved – that is, what military or political support would be forthcoming from Dublin in a ‘Doomsday’ scenario?17 The Dublin Government reluctantly admitted that it would have no choice but to protect the minority in such circumstances, as public opinion would not allow otherwise. At the same time, the Government was aware that the army did not have the

in Gerry Fitt and the SDLP
Comparing the Sunningdale Agreement and the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement

’. Article 3 stated that, pending the ‘re-integration of the national territory’, the Irish parliament and government had the right to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of the island although it chose, voluntarily, not to apply this to Northern Ireland. This was a territorial claim by successive Irish governments to sovereignty over the entire island of Ireland. According to the Irish Constitution, Northern Ireland was a part of both the Irish nation and the independent Irish state – it was not part of the United Kingdom. In contrast, according to the relevant British

in Sunningdale, the Ulster Workers’ Council strike and the struggle for democracy in Northern Ireland