Anglo-Irish Framework for peace negotiations (1995)

In February 1995 British prime minister John Major and Irish taoiseach John Bruton released “Framework Documents” pertaining to peace negotiations and government in Northern Ireland. This extract specifies four “guiding principles” for the success of peace negotiations:

“The Joint Declaration acknowledges that the most urgent and important issue facing the people of Ireland, North and South, and the British and Irish governments together, is to remove the causes of conflict, to overcome the legacy of history and to heal the divisions which have resulted.

Both governments recognise that there is much for deep regret on all sides in the long and often tragic history of Anglo-Irish relations and of relations in Ireland. They believe it is now time to lay aside, with dignity and forbearance, the mistakes of the past. A collective effort is needed to create, through agreement and reconciliation, a new beginning founded on consent, for relationships within Northern Ireland, within the island of Ireland and between the peoples of these islands.

The Joint Declaration itself represents an important step towards this goal, offering the people of Ireland, North and South, whatever their tradition, the basis to agree that from now on their differences can be negotiated and resolved exclusively by peaceful political means.

The announcements made by the Irish Republican Army on August 31st 1994 and the Combined Loyalist Military Command on October 13th 1994 are a welcome response to the profound desire of people throughout these islands for a permanent end to the violence which caused such immense suffering and waste and served only to reinforce the barriers of fear and hatred, impeding the search for agreement.
A climate of peace enables the process of healing to begin. It transforms the prospects for political progress…

Both governments are conscious of the widespread desire, throughout both islands and more widely, to see negotiations underway as soon as possible. They also acknowledge the many requests, from parties in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, for both governments to set out their views on how agreement might be reached on relationships within the island of Ireland and between the peoples of these islands.

They take as guiding principles for their co-operation in search of this agreement:

i. the principle of self-determination, as set out in the Joint Declaration;

ii. that the consent of the governed is an essential ingredient for stability in any political arrangement;

iii. that agreement must be pursued and established by exclusively democratic, peaceful means, without resort to violence or coercion;

iv. that any new political arrangements must be based on full respect for, and protection and expression of, the rights and identities of both traditions in Ireland and even-handedly afford both communities in Northern Ireland parity of esteem and treatment, including equality of opportunity and advantage…”