ON THE PATH TO PEACE?
May 25, 1998
Ireland has voted "yes" to an ambitious peace plan that could end the civil unrest that has troubled the region for centuries. Is Ireland really on its way to a lasting peace or are there more obstacles ahead for negotiators? After a background report, two journalists discuss the peace plan for Ireland.
MARGARET WARNER: There was jubilation at the King's Hall in Belfast last Saturday, as the results of Friday's referenda were announced. The official tallies showed two resounding endorsements for the Northern Ireland peace accord-- 71 percent in Northern Ireland, and 94 percent in the Republic of Ireland. Both sections of the island--the six counties that are part of Britain in the North, known as Ulster, and the independent Irish republic in the South-- saw record turnouts in separate votes on whether to approve the accord. The so-called Good Friday agreement was reached on April 10, after negotiations among all the parties under the leadership of former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
May 25, 1998
A discussion on the Irish peace deal.
Former Senator George Mitchell discusses the peace accord.
April 9, 1998
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
Northern Ireland peace talks are scheduled to resume in September.
July 21, 1997
Ireland: More Steps Toward Peace.
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.
Is peace possible in Northern Ireland?
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Europe.
The Irish Times.
A vote for peace.
GEORGE MITCHELL: God bless all the people of Northern Ireland.
MARGARET WARNER: The agreement aims to put an end to 30 years of violence between Protestant Unionists, who want Northern Ireland to remain part of Britain, and Catholic Nationalists and Republicans, who want to become one nation with the Republic of Ireland. The bitter fighting left more than 3,000 people dead. On the issue of Northern Ireland's political status, the agreement does the following: maintains Northern Ireland as part of Britain--unless a majority of residents in the North votes to join the Irish Republic; amends the Irish republic's constitution to surrender its territorial claim to "the entire island of Ireland." The "yes" vote also: creates an elected Northern Ireland assembly, giving the 1.6 million residents there the power to govern themselves on economic and other domestic issues; creates a new north-south ministerial council to encourage cooperation between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic on common issues like agriculture and tourism. Bertie Ahern, Prime Minister of the Irish republic, welcomed the results.
BERTIE AHERN: The decision of the people of Ireland, Nationalists and Unionists, to endorse the Good Friday agreement represents a historic watershed between the past, driven by political division, and a new future based on mutual respect, concord and agreement.
MARGARET WARNER: Equally enthusiastic was British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had mounted a vigorous campaign supporting the agreement in Ulster.
TONY BLAIR: The people have spoken with a resounding voice. In the Republic of Ireland, in Northern Ireland, in the whole of the island of Ireland--everybody has now said you can make your argument by words, by debate, by argument, by persuasion, but there is no place for the gun and the bomb and violence in the politics of Northern Ireland or the politics of any of the island of Ireland. All that is over and gone.
MARGARET WARNER: Exit polls showed that more than 95 percent of Catholic voters approved the accord. Gerry Adams, head of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the militant Irish Republican Army, said it was time for Catholics and Protestants to begin putting the agreement to work. But those same Exit polls showed Northern Ireland's Protestants had divided, 55 percent in favor, 45 percent against. Militant Protestant Unionist Leader Ian Paisley struck a defiant tone after the vote.
IAN PAISLEY: We were right. Yes, we were right.
MARGARET WARNER: Among voters, themselves, there seemed strong sentiment for the politicians to get to work, making the peace accord a reality.
VOTER: We just hope there's peace, that's all we want, nothing else, only peace.
"They've asked us to trust them, we've trusted them, it's up to them now, they'd better deliver on it because we want peace."
VOTER: They've asked us to trust them, we've trusted them, it's up to them now, they'd better deliver on it because we want peace.
MARGARET WARNER: The next step is another election in the North--scheduled for June 25th--to elect representatives to the new 108-seat Belfast assembly.