The participants in the agreement were composed of two sovereign states (the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland), with armed forces and police forces involved in the riots. Two political parties, Sinn Féin and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), were linked to paramilitary organisations: the IRA (Commissional Irish Republican Army) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had withdrawn from the talks three months earlier. In November 2015, after ten weeks of talks convened by the British and Irish governments, a fresh start was agreed – the Stormont Agreement and the Implementation Plan. The Fresh Start agreement dealt with the implementation of many aspects of the Stormont House Agreement and the additional issue of combating the lingering effects and legacy of paramilitarism. In order to show Sinn Féin the benefits of constitutional policy, Reynolds defended U.S. President Bill Clinton for Gerry Adams to obtain a visa for a visit to the United States. Clinton agreed, and Adams was granted a 48-hour visa in February 1994 to visit America, even though most of Clinton`s top advisers were against this, and very much to John Major`s rage. The visa was important as part of the broader choreography of the peace organization. But this did not lead to an immediate ceasefire by the IRA. A month later, the IRA demonstrated its continued reach by attacking Heathrow Airport. However, the visit was important in the context of the debate process within the republican movement and finally, on 31 August 1994, the IRA announced its ceasefire.
The ceasefire was followed in October 1994 by a ceasefire declared by loyalist paramilitaries. The British and Irish governments agreed to hold joint referendums on 22 May 1998. The referendum in Northern Ireland was aimed at accepting the Good Friday agreement itself (a copy of which was presented to each household) and 71% of the population voted “yes”. The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) or the Belfast Agreement (irish: Comhaonté Aoine an Chéasta or Comhaonté Bhéal Feirste; Ulster-Scots: Guid Friday Greeance or Bilfawst Greeance) is a couple of agreements signed on 10 April 1998 that put an end to most of the violence of the Troubles, a political conflict in Northern Ireland that had erupted since the late 1960s. This was an important development in the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s. Northern Ireland`s current system of de-decentralized government is based on the agreement. The agreement also created a number of institutions between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as well as between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. The IRA renewed its ceasefire on 20 July 1997 and paved the way for Sinn Féin to participate in the discussions between the parties that had begun under Mitchell`s presidency. However, the issue of decommissioning persisted and the British and Irish governments tried to thwart the issue instead of letting the process derail again. As a result, Ian Paisley`s Hard-Line Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) party came out of the talks and never returned.
The DUP refused any concessions on Northern Ireland`s constitutional position or negotiated with Sinn Féin, which it considered a terrorist. Although it was deeply unhappy, the more moderate UUP remained in the discussions. Faced with the DUP`s stated desire to halt the talks, Mitchell later wrote in his memoirs that his decision to leave had indeed helped reach an agreement. However, it is expected to have a lasting influence on Northern Ireland`s policy, as the DUP`s opposition to the Good Friday Agreement has severely hampered its implementation.