Hillsborough Agreement 2010

The talks, which have focused on Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast, are the longest ongoing negotiations under the nearly 20-year peace process. Sinn Féin had accused the DUP of blocking the transfer of police powers over the past three years, and there were fears that an agreement would lead to the collapse of the power-sharing government. Brown told reporters: “The performances were as big as they were inspiring. This moment and this agreement belongs to the people of Northern Ireland, to all the people, and now more than ever their future… It is the last chapter of a long and turbulent story, and the beginning of a new chapter after decades of violence, years of conversations, weeks of deadlock. After one of the longest negotiations in the history of the peace process, Sinn Féin and the DUP have reached an agreement that is expected to see a decentralization of justice and police by 12 April. A UUP spokeswoman said members wanted to see the proposed agreement before giving their response to both governments. “We don`t have this agreement in sight and until we do, we won`t sign it,” she said. The agreement was finally reached around midnight in the Stormont Parliament Building. Earlier in the evening, Sinn Féin said that the basis of an agreement was on the table and that it gave DUP leaders time to convince their party to accept it. Robinson came out of a meeting of party colleagues to confirm that he had unanimously ruled in favour of the proposals. Earlier this week, up to 14 members of the DUP assembly opposed a proposed agreement because it had not made enough concessions to trade unionists. In Northern Ireland, an agreement has been reached to allow the transfer of police and judicial powers to the Northern Ireland executive. On the central theme of orange parades, there will be a working group reporting on February 23.

This may be a sensitive point, but much of the preliminary work may have already been done. After agreement on the great issue of the police and justice, it will certainly be more difficult for the DUP to go on an issue of closer interest, including within the Unionist community. Alongside his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen at a press conference at Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast, the Prime Minister said the “inspiring” agreement between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was a basis for lasting peace.