What Did The Anglo Irish Agreement Do

After the Milan interview dispelled any lingering doubts about Mrs Thatcher`s willingness to act, the negotiations proceeded quickly. Until the end of July, officials had prepared the outlines of an agreement and it was up to the respective cabinets to make the necessary decisions on three or four contentious issues. Dick Spring, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Barry, met with Howe and Hurd in London. The trial hit a major roadwork in September, when Mrs Thatcher Hurd was locked into a major cabinet reshuffle and went from the Northern Ireland Office to the Home Secretary. Christopher Patton, one of his junior ministers, who had the delicate task of having political discussions with the parties in Northern Ireland, was appointed junior minister in the Department of Education. These changes seemed, once again, to indicate the British view that Northern Ireland is not very important to the concerns of the continental United Kingdom. The reactions of the press in London and Dublin were negative, especially since Tom King, Kurd`s successor, was not a well-known political figure. Like most of his predecessors, he had little experience and little knowledge of the North. When it became clear that the agreement was already well advanced and that its details would be decided by the Prime Minister himself, those concerns faded. The deal was rejected by Republicans because it confirmed Northern Ireland`s status as part of the UK. The Provisional Republican Army of Ireland (IRA) continued its violent campaign and did not support the agreement. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams condemned the agreement: “…

formal recognition of the division of Ireland… [it`s] a disaster for the nationalist cause… [it] far outweighs Dublin`s impotent advisory role. [42] On the other hand, the IRA and Sinn Féin claimed that Britain`s concessions were the result of their armed campaign, which gave political recognition to the SDLP. [43] Brian Feeney of the SDLP proposed that the agreement expedite Sinn Féins` 1986 decision to abandon the abstention of the Republic`s Oireachtas. [44] The agreement was widely rejected by trade unionists because it first gave the Republic of Ireland a role in the governance of Northern Ireland and because it had been excluded from the negotiations of the agreement. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led the campaign against the agreement, including mass rallies, strikes, civil disobedience and the mass resignation of all Unionist MPs in the British House of Commons. The DUP and UUP together gathered 400,000 signatures in a petition against the agreement. Northern Ireland Minister Tom King was attacked by Protestants in Belfast on 20 November. [24] On 23 November 1985, a mass rally against the agreement was held in front of Belfast City Hall, in which Irish historian Jonathan Bardon said: “Nothing like it has been since 1912.” [25] Estimates of the number of people vary: the Irish Times reported that 35,000 people were present; [26] The News of the World, the Sunday Times and the Sunday Express claimed 100,000; [27] Arthur Aughey, a professor of politics at the University of Ulster, said that more than 200,000 people were present; [28] and the organizers of the meeting said that 500,000 participated. [27] No change in the status of Northern Ireland without their consent.

The legitimacy of the position of trade unionists was recognized by the Republic in a formal international agreement. No one expected the Unionist community or its leaders to like the agreement, but attempts were made to allay the fears of trade unionists to the extent that words could do so.

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