The Anglo-Irish Agreement

The Grand Hotel in Brighton following the IRA bomb attack.

The British government has invited the Irish government to share in the burden of administering the troubled province of Northern Ireland. This is the unique invitation spelled out in an agreement signed on November 15, 1985, by the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland, Margaret Thatcher and Garret FitzGerald. If put into practice, this Anglo-Irish agreement will be the most important development in relations between the two countries since 1922, when the south of Ireland received independent dominion status as the Irish Free State while Northern Ireland remained within the United Kingdom.

The agreement represents a dramatic shift in Prime Minister Thatcher’s position. During her first several years in office, she attached the highest importance to maintaining British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. In her first meeting with FitzGerald after he became prime minister in 1981, she remarked that she regarded the north as being "as British as Finchley," referring to her own constituency

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