In Northern Ireland, the agreement was largely unpopular. The Unionists bitterly rejected it, arguing that Thatcher had not included them in the negotiations. They also rejected the proposal for an Intergovernmental Conference, fearing that Dublin would play a role in the levers of the Ulster government. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was a treaty between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland of November 1985. It was the British government`s first significant step towards peace since the failure of the Sunningdale Agreement 11 years earlier. The Anglo-Irish agreement retained Westminster`s commitment to self-determination in Northern Ireland, but accepted the possibility of Irish reunification if supported by a majority of Northern Irish. At the heart of Northern Ireland`s political spectrum is the Alliance Party which, as the name suggests, seeks to bridge the sectarian divide. It has Catholic leaders, but draws its strength from Protestant and Catholic voters. It has not been able to expand its base beyond the middle-class neighbourhoods of Belfast and the surrounding suburbs. In the municipal elections of May 1985, her vote fell to seven percent and she lost several seats.
“The simple fact is that without the concessions she made in the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985, I very much doubt that we would have made all the progress that was made afterwards, the Good Friday agreement and the end of the violence for which everyone really prayed.” The UK Government accepts comments and proposals from the Irish Government on issues related to Northern Ireland. Presumably, no government invites another government to give advice on matters within its own jurisdiction unless it intends to take that advice seriously. The Agreement does not provide for any procedure for the settlement or settlement of disputes. He merely said: “In the interest of promoting peace and stability, the Conference will make a determined effort to resolve any differences.” The excessive language of politicians, the threats of violence from Protestant gunmen who have an abundance of weapons and the grumpy mood of the entire unionist community, from academic intellectuals to the unemployed, do not bode well for the reconciliation of the two northern communities, which is the ideal that the agreement seeks to achieve. As the two governments worked to implement the deal, there was no reason to doubt the words of Barry White, deputy editor of the Belfast Telegraph and respected observer of the northern scene, who had written a few months earlier: “Protestant unionists and Catholic nationalists in Northern Ireland have never been so far apart. The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed on 15 November 1985 by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Ireland at Hillsborough, Co. Down. The agreement was the most important development in Anglo-Irish relations since the 1920s. Both governments have confirmed that there will be no change in Northern Ireland`s status without the consent of a majority of its citizens. The two governments also saw the deal as a way to persuade Northern Ireland`s union leaders to agree to a decentralised power-sharing deal. The process had a brief difficult period in September, when Mrs Thatcher involved Hurd in a major cabinet reshuffle and transferred him from the Northern Ireland office to the post of Home Secretary.
Christopher Patton, one of his junior ministers, who had the delicate task of holding political talks with the Northern Irish parties, was transferred to the post of junior minister in the Ministry of Education. These changes once again seemed to indicate to the UK that Northern Ireland was not very important to the concerns of the British continent. The reaction of the press in London and Dublin was negative, especially since Tom King, the Kurd`s successor, was not a well-known political figure. Like most of his predecessors, he had no experience and little knowledge of the North. When it became clear that the agreement was already well advanced and that its details would be decided by the Prime Minister herself, those concerns faded. For the first time since partition, the agreement gave the Irish government the right to make a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland government processes and a permanent presence in Belfast. After the Milan negotiations had dispelled any doubt about Mrs Thatcher`s willingness to act, the negotiations progressed rapidly. By the end of July, officials had prepared the main features of an agreement, and it was up to the respective cabinets to take the necessary decisions on three or four controversial points. Dick Spring, Ireland`s Deputy Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary Peter Barry met with Howe and Hurd in London. “The Americans influenced her, but she wouldn`t have done it from her point of view if she hadn`t decided that this was the right thing to do.” When a British response first arrived, it was significantly lower than Dublin had hoped.
Prior, who recited his swan song as Northern Ireland`s secretary before leaving cabinet to do business, opened a debate on the issue in the House of Commons on July 2, 1984. .