Ratification Mechanism: Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement

Validation, Implementation and Review

Validation and Implementation

1. The two Governments will as soon as possible sign a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, embodying understandings on constitutional issues and affirming their solemn commitment to support and, where appropriate, implement the agreement reached by the participants in the negotiations which shall be annexed to the British-Irish Agreement.

2. Each Government will organise a referendum on 22 May 1998. Subject to Parliamentary approval, a consultative referendum in Northern Ireland, organised under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Entry to Negotiations, etc.) Act 1996, will address the question: "Do you support the agreement reached in the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?". The Irish Government will introduce and support in the Oireachtas a Bill to amend the Constitution as described in paragraph 2 of the section "Constitutional Issues" and in Annex B, as follows: (a) to amend Articles 2 and 3 as described in paragraph 8.1 in Annex B above and (b) to amend Article 29 to permit the Government to ratify the new British-Irish Agreement. On passage by the Oireachtas, the Bill will be put to referendum.

3. If majorities of those voting in each of the referendums support this agreement, the Governments will then introduce and support, in their respective Parliaments, such legislation as may be necessary to give effect to all aspects of this agreement, and will take whatever ancillary steps as may be required including the holding of elections on 25 June, subject to parliamentary approval, to the Assembly, which would meet initially in a "shadow" mode. The establishment of the North-South Ministerial Council, implementation bodies, the British-Irish Council and the British- Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the assumption by the Assembly of its legislative and executive powers will take place at the same time on the entry into force of the British-Irish Agreement.

Implementation History

1998

Full Implementation

Referendums took place both in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, people were asked “Do you support the Agreement reached at the multi-party talks on Northern Ireland and set out in Command Paper 3883?”Turnout in the referendum was 81.1% of which 71.1% supported the agreement. In Republic of Ireland, people were asked “Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the under mentioned Bill ? Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1998.” Turnout in the referendum was 55.6% of which 94.4% supported the proposed constitutional amendment.1 As such, the Good Friday Agreement was ratified in the referendum.

Following the referendum, the 19th constitutional amendment in the Republic of Ireland took place on 3 June 1998.2 Similarly, the British Government repealed the Government of Ireland Act 1920 in November 1998. The Northern Ireland Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 15 July 1998 and the bill had its third reading in the House of Lords on 17 November. The bill got the royal assent on 19 November 1998.3

1999

Full Implementation

The Good Friday Agreement was ratified in the 1998 referendum. 

2000

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2001

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2002

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2003

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2004

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2005

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2006

Full Implementation

No further developments observed. 

2007

Full Implementation

No further developments observed.