David Byrne


They include the treatment of the issues of self-determination, consent, and the status of Northern Ireland in the Irish Constitution and in British constitutional legislation; the establishment of new democratic institutions in Northern Ireland on a partnership basis; the creation of formal new links between the two jurisdictions in Ireland through a North/South Ministerial Council and a number of related bodies exercising executive functions; and the development of wider connections within Britain and Ireland through a British-Irish Council involving the two governments and devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as a continuing British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. There was already in existence an international agreement between the two governments-the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 ("1985 Agreement"), which was reached following confidential negotiations between the two governments alone, and which included a measure of agreement on the status of Northern Ireland. It concerns the related issues of the status of Northern Ireland, the principles of consent and self-determination, the recognition and protection of the equality of the identity, ethos, and aspirations of both communities in Northern Ireland, and guarantees of dual citizenship rights in all circumstances. In the Multi-Party Agreement, the participants endorsed those commitments made by the two governments, and also noted that they had undertaken to propose and to support changes in, respectively, the Constitution of Ireland and in British legislation relating to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. The interlinkage and synchronization of the various elements is also reflected in the Multi-Party Agreement itself, which firmly links the Northern Ireland Assembly to the other new institutional arrangements. The amendments to our Constitution were passed in the referendum on May 22, 1998. This change is aimed at allowing for and facilitating the practical coming together of the people of the island for our mutual benefit through the North/South Ministerial Council and implementation bodies.