April 10, 1998
An agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland was announced today. Protestants and Catholics will share governance of the contested province. After this background report, Elizabeth Farnsworth talks to the chairman of the peace talks, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: First tonight, Northern Ireland. We'll talk with Senator George Mitchell, chairman of the peace talks, but first a report of today's developments narrated by Kwame Holman.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
Will peace last in Northern Ireland?
April 9, 1998
Irish peace talks go down to the wire.
March 17, 1998
P.M. Bertie Ahern discusses efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
August 4, 1997
A Newsmaker interview with George Mitchell.
July 21, 1997
An IRA ceasefire prompts discussion.
February 12, 1996
An IRA bomb shatters the 18 month ceasefire.
The Greening of the White House: a look at U.S. - Northern Ireland relations.
Northern Ireland Peace Talks.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Europe.
The Irish Times newspaper.
KWAME HOLMAN: The peace agreement was achieved inside Northern Ireland's Stormont Castle, home of the province's administrative center. Inside, leaders of eight political groups representing various factions of the majority Protestants and the minority Catholics agreed just 17 hours beyond a deadline set by the American mediator, Former Senate Majority Leader, George Mitchell. David Trimble, of the Ulster Unionists, spoke for many of the Protestants, who want to maintain their links with Britain.
The Protestants will maintain links to Britain.
DAVID TRIMBLE: I believe the people of Northern Ireland will make their choice, take this opportunity, and leave behind those still marred in violence and hate. Let us now then proceed to see if we can govern Northern Ireland together for the benefit of all our citizens. For it is we who know best the minds and hearts of our own people, and let us offer to them a vision of peace and prosperity for our children.
KWAME HOLMAN: Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army, spoke for those Catholics who want one nation with the Irish republic to the South.
Gerry Adams speaks for Catholics.
GERRY ADAMS: There's no going back to the failed policies, no going back to the domination, no going back to all of the difficulties suffered by every faction of our people, not just one but every faction of our people. We have constantly stated that our negotiating team will report back to the Oireachtas, our national executive of Sinn Fein--who will assess the document in the context of our peace strategy.
KWAME HOLMAN: The deal agreed to today must be ratified in May by voters both in the six counties of Northern Ireland. Afterward, voters in Northern Ireland would elect 108 members to a local assembly in a power-sharing arrangement between Catholics and Protestants, and a so-called cross border council would give ministers from the Irish government more of a role in developing polices with the North. The 22 months of talks that ended today got a final push from the direct intervention three days ago of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern. Prime Minister Blair spoke outside the negotiating room moments after the accord was announced.
TONY BLAIR: I believe that today courage has triumphed. I said when I arrived here on Wednesday night that I felt the hand of history upon us. Today I hope that the burden of history can at long last start to be lifted from our shoulders. It will take more of the courage we have shown, but it need not be more of the pain.
Irish Prime Minister Ahern: "Equality, cooperation, and partnership threaten nobody."
KWAME HOLMAN: Irish Prime Minister Ahern also spoke.
BERTIE AHERN: Ahead of us strikes the prospect of a radical transformation of all the key relationships and these islands. We've placed structures and arrangements which will allow us to work together in harmony and in mutual respect for a common goal. As a result of this agreement, there will be gained across many important areas a process of continuing change in the ground. Equality, cooperation, and partnership threaten nobody. On behalf of the Irish government I look forward to closer and stronger links with the island of Ireland, developing further the excellent relationship between Britain and Ireland. My ultimate political aspiration remains the coming together of all the people of Ireland achieved peacefully and by consent. I value deeply the close relationship between the Irish government and the British government, but I look forward equally to a new era of friendship and reconciliation between unionists and nationalists in which each tradition can learn truly the value of the other.
Praise for Senator Mitchell.
KWAME HOLMAN: Much of the credit for stitching together the deal went to Senator Mitchell for refusing to give up in the talks frequently bogged down in bitter distrust. Today he got plenty of praise for his role.
GERRY ADAMS: We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Sen. Mitchell. Thank you very, very much for all of your efforts and for all of your endeavors.
DAVID TRIMBLE: I must join with those, George--have thanked you and John and Harry--for your tremendous patience over time, particularly in the last few days, which have been trying for all of us and I think must have been at times intensely frustrating for yourselves.
KWAME HOLMAN: Withe the beginning of the Easter weekend, including the Protestant parades on Easter Monday, comes the process of both sides selling the accord to their followers and bringing and end to 30 years of civil strife in Northern Ireland.