The Agreement: Yes or No? Consequences of Various Positions

5 June 1998

Consequences of a Yes Vote

Northern Ireland
For the first time in 24 years there will be a Northern Ireland Assembly in which Nationalists and Unionists will together govern Northern Ireland. This will be a momentous change: * Nationalists will be taking responsibility for Northern Ireland;
* Nationalists will be committed to the future of Northern Ireland;
* Unionists will be accepting Northern Ireland has to be a place in which both Nationalists and Unionists feel at home;
* Together we may be able to create a new and unique space;
* Politicians elected by the people will govern Northern Ireland instead of civil servants;
* Republicans will take their place in a Northern Ireland Assembly and possibly in a Northern Ireland Government. This is an incredible change for them. It shows a willingness by them to accept Northern Ireland institutions and to work with people from all traditions.
* In the Assembly elections people will be able to vote for politicians who define themselves as `other' instead of Unionist of Nationalist.
* There will also be a new Civic Forum which will give the voluntary and community sector a voice.
* European law on Human Rights will be made part of Northern Ireland law.
* Paramilitary groups on ceasefire will commit themselves to total decommissioning. If they fail to show that violence is really over, other parties will not accept them in government.
* A new Commission to make recommendations on policing will be set up.
* Prisoners will be released early.

North-South
A new Ministerial Council will be set up. Northern Unionists and Nationalists will have to agree on what areas the Council will deal with. The Council will operate within the policy set by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Constitutional
There will be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the majority of its people.
The Irish Constitution will recognise Northern Ireland and commit the Irish people to using exclusively peaceful means for political ends.

Economic
There will be a great increase in inward investment leading to new jobs. President Clinton and the European Community have both promised funds.

International image
For the first time we will be seen as a people who are tackling our sectarianism and thereby become an example of hope for people in other conflict situations.

Peace
The Agreement may not lead to an immediate end of all violence. However, it has the backing of the vast majority of paramilitary groups, both Loyalist and Republican. Because of this it may lead to peace in the long run.

Consequences of a No Vote
Northern Ireland
There will be no Assembly:
* Neither Unionist nor Nationalist politicians will play a direct role in the government of Northern Ireland;
* Northern Ireland will continue under direct rule by the British Government;
* Civil Servants will still have massive influence.
* The Anglo-Irish Agreement will remain in place.
* The Maryfield Secretariat will remain in place.
*The British Government will increase its cooperation with the Dublin Government because this relationship gives it protection internationally when there are controversial incidents.
*There will be no Civic Forum
*European law on Human Rights may or may not be made part of Northern Ireland law.
*The Government is likely to set up a Commission to make recommendations on policing anyway.
*The Government is likely to give early release to prisoners if by so doing they can persuade the main paramilitary groups to stay on ceasefire. Of paramilataries currently in jail, all but approximately 63 will have been released anyway under current early release schemes which have been in operation since the 1980s.
*Paramilitary groups will not be bound by their commitment to decommission.
North-South
There will be no North-South Ministerial Council.

Constitutional
There will be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the majority of its people.
The South's territorial claim over Northern Ireland in Articles Two and Three will remain in place.

Economic
We will lose the confidence an Agreement would give investors.
The promises of US and European Community Funds will be withdrawn.

International image
We will continue to be seen as a country dominated by sectarianism.

Peace
In the short term there will be no change in the current situation, but the failure to agree on a way forward is likely to lead to increased violence.

Future
- It will be decades before ten political parties - Unionist and Loyalist, Nationalist and Republican, and the two Governments - will accept a new Agreement.

Questions for discussion

Is a Yes or No vote more likely to lead to political stability over the next five years?

Can you think of a different agreement which would be accepted by both Unionists and Nationalists?

Will a Yes or a No vote be best for your children and future generations