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The Agreement


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    The Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement) was reached in Belfast on Friday, April 10 1998.

    It sets out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis and provided for the creation of Human Rights and Equality commissions, the early release of terrorist prisoners, the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and far reaching reforms of criminal justice and policing.

    The Agreement proposed an inter-connected group of institutions from three 'strands' of relationships.

    Strand One deals with relationships within Northern Ireland and created the Northern Ireland Assembly, its Executive and the consultative Civic Forum. The Assembly has 108 members (MLAs), elected by proportional representation and Ministers to the Executive are appointed according to party strength under the d'Hondt mechanism. The last Assembly election was held in November, 2003.

    Strand Two deals with relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A North-South Ministerial Conference (NSMC) brings together members of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government to oversee the work of six cross-border implementation bodies.

    Strand Three deals with the East-West relationships within the British Isles. A British-Irish Inter-Governmental Conference was established to promote bilateral co-operation between the UK and Ireland. It replaced the Anglo-Irish Inter-Governmental Council and Conference set up by the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985.

    A British-Irish Council was also created that incorporates members of all devolved administrations within the UK and representatives of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands as well as the British and Irish governments.

    The Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission were created under the Agreement; there was a comprehensive review of criminal justice and policing arrangements and money was allocated to help victims of violence.

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