The St Andrews Agreement (2006)

Signed in Scotland in October 2006, the St Andrews Agreement was negotiated by leaders of Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland’s political parties. This agreement finalised issues and procedures with power-sharing, allowing the restoration of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly. It also marked the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ian Paisley‘s willingness to participate in a power-sharing government:

“1. Over the past three days in St Andrews we have engaged intensively with the Northern Ireland political parties with a view to achieving the goal we set in Armagh in April, which is shared by all the parties and the overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland: the restoration of the political institutions. We believe that the transformation brought about by the ending of the IRA’s campaign provides the basis for a political settlement.

2. Our discussions have been focused on achieving full and effective operation of the political institutions. When we arrived in Scotland a limited number of outstanding issues remained to be resolved, including support for and devolution of policing and the criminal justice system, changes to the operation of the Agreement institutions, and certain other matters raised by the parties… The two governments now believe that the agreement we are publishing today clears the way to restoration.

Power sharing and political institutions

3. Both governments remain fully committed to the fundamental principles of the Agreement: consent for constitutional change, commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means, stable inclusive partnership government, a balanced institutional accommodation of the key relationships within Northern Ireland, between North and South and within these islands, and for equality and human rights at the heart of the new dispensation in Northern Ireland. All parties to this agreement need to be wholeheartedly and publicly committed, in good faith and in a spirit of genuine partnership, to the full operation of stable power-sharing Government and the North-South and East-West arrangements.

4. Following discussion with all the parties, we have made an assessment of practical changes to the operation of the institutions and we are publishing today a clear outline of these. The British Government will introduce legislation in Parliament before the statutory November deadline to enact these changes, once parties have endorsed the agreement and agreed definitively to restore the power sharing institutions…

Appointment of Ministers in the Executive

9. An amendment would be made to the 1998 Act on appointment of Ministers in the Executive. The nominating officer of the largest party in the largest designation in the Assembly shall make a nomination to the Assembly Presiding Officer for the post of First Minister. The Nominating Officer of the largest party in the second largest designation in the Assembly shall similarly nominate for the post of Deputy First Minister. The D’Hondt procedure will then run, as already set out in the 1998 Act, to fill the Ministerial posts in the Executive…”