Key elements of the proposals


The governments said they were confident that the Provisional IRA was willing to agree to a “full and permanent cessation of all paramilitary activity”.

Secondly, the IRA was expected to set a deadline, with the international independent arms body, to get rid of all its weaponry by the end of December 2004.

The governments proposed a form of words for a statement from the IRA. This statement would declare the IRA would move into a new mode as part of the transition to a totally peaceful society.

It would conclude the process to completely and verifiably put all its arms beyond use. Finally, the IRA should declare its members have been given specific instructions not to engage in any activity which might thereby endanger the new agreement.

The International Independent Commission on Decommissioning - the people charged with ensuring paramilitary weapons are dealt with, would also make a statement.

The IICD was to say that two observers would join its monitoring of arms decommissioning, both of these being clergymen. There witnesses would be able to make public statements about the process.

A further proposal was that photographs of the weapons and material would be taken by the commission and subsequently shown to the governments and parties. This would coincide with the body’s final report on the IRA and then would be published when the executive takes power.


The British government said it would lift the suspension of the Belfast Assembly and executive at the earliest opportunity. First, the parties would nominate ministers. A shadow assembly would begin work in January 2005. The full power-sharing arrangements would follow as quickly as possible - probably in February 2005, due to the time needed to pass legislation at Westminster.

The DUP were to say that that the party would be prepared to participate in the new arrangements.

The proposals include a new ministerial code which would bind the executive to the principles of cross-community power-sharing, such as equal treatment of people from both traditions, fair prioritising of policies and so on.

A revised pledge of office would seek to address similar issues. Separate measures would also be introduced to give the assembly members more power to scrutinise ministerial decisions.

Assembly members would also gain powers to approve or reject the executive when it is first formed.

Finally, the government would ditch its powers to suspend the Assembly.


London said that if republicans agreed to support the new police service, the government could devolve responsibility for policing and justice to the assembly - ultimately leading to minister or ministers for these areas in the power-sharing body.

This move would depend on Sinn Féin calling a special party conference known as an Ard Fheis to debate policing.

The governments proposed that Gerry Adams ask his party’s leadership to call the Ard Fheis. This would take place in the context of agreement between the parties and the devolution of policing and justice powers away from London.

The Ard Fheis would be asked to approve the party nominating members for the community board that governs the police service, leading the way to more members of the nationalist community joining the force.


There was no mention in the proposals of other issues believed to be part of a deal. These are thought to include:

  • demilitarisation by the British Army,
  • loyalist paramilitaries and their guns,
  • the status of republicans ‘on the run’,
  • the status of the Castlerea 4,
  • the problem of legally held weapons,
  • participation in the Dublin parliament for northerners,
  • the powers of the Human Rights Commission,
  • the role of the PSNI Special Branch
  • the use of plastic bullets,
  • the handling of public inquiries,
  • the removal of oppressive legislation,
  • the status of the Irish language,
  • other human rights and equality matters.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News