The Northern Ireland peace process grew out of a series of dialogues and exchanges between SDLP leader John Hume and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in the late 1980s. These dialogues sowed the seeds for a departure in Republican thinking about British involvement in Northern Ireland and encouraged a move away from paramilitary violence which activated the involvement of British, Irish and American governments, and produced an expansive peace process designed to entrench attitudes of conflict resolution and draw paramilitary groups into the arena of democratic politics. The interactions between Hume and Adams captured wider political interest from the early 1990s, when the British and Irish governments recognized the possibility for transforming the political environment in Northern Ireland, and a series of communications and contacts followed which culminated in The Good Friday Agreement of 1998. The agreement provided a constitutional settlement based on themes of equality, human rights and consociational change (O’Leary 2001); and was based on years of bilateral and multilateral negotiations which concentrated on developing three interlocking strands. The first strand focuses on the formation of a new assembly which fully represents the different communities and parties.
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