Negotiations were long and stagnated to a large extent at the end of 1997. 70 In January 1998, the British and Irish governments presented a brief document negotiated with Trimble.71 In March 1998, Mitchell announced a deadline of 9 April to conclude the talks. The choice of date was not entirely arbitrary, as the legislation put in place by the Forum was due to expire in May 1998.72 Mitchell also felt that the agreement had to be concluded and a ratification referendum was held before the „walking season” of July, a period of high tensions in Northern Ireland73 The parties reached an agreement on Good Friday April 10. , 1998, after secondary interventions by Blair (in the form of a written letter) and Clinton (in the form of a telephone call with Trimble) who should assure trade unionists that the agreement would not be implemented if the IRA did not advance the dismantling. In total, the formal discussions lasted 21 months. The UN chief calls the agreement „significant development,” while NATO wants to implement its „conditions-based adjustments.” For the agreement to work, it was crucial for trade unionists to believe that the IRA`s cessation of violence – and the use of exclusively peaceful means – was not merely tactical, regardless of the long-term risks they take in terms of demographics, etc. To some extent, trade unionists saw the decommissioning as a restriction on the IRA`s ability to return to war. But most understood that the IRA could easily replace all the weapons it had destroyed. More importantly, the union`s conviction that a decommissioning agreement was a true sign of peaceful intent, because the IRA had so vehemently defended itself against decommissioning in the past. It is precisely for this reason that the IRA was not prepared to take even modest decommissioning measures until the agreement was reached. As part of the agreement, the militants also agreed not to allow al Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control. In this regard, there are important similarities with the way in which the Dayton process shaped the substance of the Dayton Accords that ended the fighting in Bosnia.
Both trials included the hard men who fuelled the conflict, resulting in agreements that similarly froze sectarian identity within the colony, thus continuing the underlying conflict.