Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government Of Ireland
The British and Irish Governments:
Welcoming the strong commitment to the Agreement reached on 10 April 1998 by themselves and other participants in the multi-party talks and set out in Annex 1 to this Agreement (hereinafter ‘the Multi-Party Agreement’);
Considering that the Multi-Party Agreement offers an opportunity for a new beginning in relationships within Northern Ireland, within the island of Ireland and between the peoples of these islands;
Wishing to develop still further the unique relationship between their peoples and the close co-operation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union;
Reaffirming their total commitment to the principles of democracy and non-violence which have been fundamental to the multi-party talks;
Reaffirming their commitment to the principles of partnership, equality and mutual respect and to the protection of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights in their respective jurisdictions;
Have agreed as follows:
The two Governments:
(i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland;
(ii) recognise that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland;
(iii) acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and accordingly, that Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom reflects and relies upon that wish; and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people;
(iv) affirm that, if in the future, the people of the island of Ireland exercise their right of self-determination on the basis set out in sections (i) and (ii) above to bring about a united Ireland, it will be a binding obligation on both Governments to introduce and support in their respective Parliaments legislation to give effect to that wish;
(v) affirm that whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions and shall be founded on the principles of full respect for, and equality of, civil, political, social and cultural rights, of freedom from discrimination for all citizens, and of parity of esteem and of just and equal treatment for the identity, ethos and aspirations of both communities;
(vi) recognise the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.
The two Governments affirm their solemn commitment to support, and where appropriate implement, the provisions of the Multi-Party Agreement. In particular there shall be established in accordance with the provisions of the Multi-Party Agreement immediately on the entry into force of this Agreement, the following institutions:
(i) a North / South Ministerial Council;
(ii) the implementation bodies referred to in paragraph 9 (ii) of the section entitled ‘Strand Two’ of the Multi-Party Agreement;
(iii) a British-Irish Council;
(iv) a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
(1) This Agreement shall replace the Agreement between the British and Irish Governments done at Hillsborough on 15th November 1985 which shall cease to have effect on entry into force of this Agreement.
(2) The Intergovernmental Conference established by Article 2 of the aforementioned Agreement done on 15th November 1985 shall cease to exist on entry into force of this Agreement.
(1) It shall be a requirement for entry into force of this Agreement that:
(a) British legislation shall have been enacted for the purpose of implementing the provisions of Annex A to the section entitled ‘Constitutional Issues’ of the Multi-Party Agreement;
(b) the amendments to the Constitution of Ireland set out in Annex B to the section entitled ‘Constitutional Issues’ of the Multi-Party Agreement shall have been approved by Referendum;
(c) such legislation shall have been enacted as may be required to establish the institutions referred to in Article 2 of this Agreement.
(2) Each Government shall notify the other in writing of the completion, so far as it is concerned, of the requirements for entry into force of this Agreement. This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of the receipt of the later of the two notifications.
(3) Immediately on entry into force of this Agreement, the Irish Government shall ensure that the amendments to the Constitution of Ireland set out in Annex B to the section entitled ‘Constitutional Issues’ of the Multi-Party Agreement take effect.
In witness thereof the undersigned, being duly authorised thereto by the respective Governments, have signed this Agreement.
Done in two originals at Belfast on the 10th day of April 1998.
- for the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- for the Government of Ireland
The Agreement Reached in the Multi-Party Talks
Declaration on the Provisions of Paragraph (vi) of Article 1 In Relationship to Citizenship
The British and Irish Governments declare that it is their joint understanding that the term ‘the people of Northern Ireland’ in paragraph (vi) of Article 1 of this Agreement means, for the purposes of giving effect to this provision, all persons born in Northern Ireland and having, at the time of their birth, at least one parent who is a British citizen, an Irish citizen or is otherwise entitled to reside in Northern Ireland without any restriction on their period of residence.