Northern Ireland`s experience strongly underlines an important factor highlighted in the literature on conflict resolution, the importance of maturity.108 The mere fact that the parties accepted in 1998 what they had rejected in 1973 suggests that the change in circumstances played a decisive role. But this observation is of limited value to the practitioner without a few guidelines for evaluation when the circumstances are “ripe”. While policy makers are often in what they can do to create the conditions that make a conflict ready for a solution,109 it is an important tool in the art of the state to identify a chance when it looms. Equally important is the understanding that a conflict is not ready to be negotiated: it can be said that the premature efforts that led to the Sunningdale Agreement in 1973 did contribute to prolonging the conflict. The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, in the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, voters were asked if they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and authorize the necessary constitutional changes (nineteen constitutional amendments from Ireland) to facilitate it. The citizens of both countries had to approve the agreement to implement it. A date for May 2000 has been set for the complete disarmament of all paramilitary groups. This was not achieved, which led to the suspension of the assembly on several occasions due to union objections. [13] A series of decommissioning cycles by the IRA took place (in October 2001, April 2002 and October 2003) and in July 2005, the IRA announced the formal end of its campaign. The fallowing of the loyalists did not immediately follow.

In June 2009, UVF announced that it had completed the dismantling and the UDA said it had begun dismantling its arsenal. [14] In 2010, the signing of the Hillsborough Agreement enabled the transfer of police and judicial powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, which began later that year.

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