George Mitchell's work in negotiating the peace agreement may prove to have achieved the first significant "peace" in Northern Ireland if the Northern Ireland assembly is reinstated on May 22. Mitchell's work is recounted in his 1998 book, Making Peace.Progress towards a lasting agreement have been hampered by deep divisions and mistrust on both sides. Hopes of a lasting agreement were dashed by the suspension of the Northern Ireland assembly after 10 weeks in February 2000 and a recent Easter, April 20, statement by the IRA stating that the British government's unilateral decision to suspend the assembly highlighted a "lack of political will to bring about meaningful change."However, nothing is ever certain in the political climate of Northern Ireland and background negotiations between the British and Irish governments and between the Ulster Unionist Party and Sinn Fein continued with the hopes of finding a way for the IRA to soften their position on the five year stumbling block of the decommissioning or handing in of IRA arms. The decommissioning issue had led to the suspension of the Assembly on Feb. 12. The background negotiations resulted in a statement by the IRA on May 6 promising to "initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put IRA arms beyond use." The statement has been received favorably by the Ulster Unionist party, which will ask its members to vote for a reinstatement of the assembly largely on the basis of the reassurances in the IRA statement in the next few weeks.How could a peace agreement be reached in Northern Ireland where over 3,600 people were killed and 36,000 injured in the last twenty-five years and where bombings and shootings were everyday occurrences? Could almost 300 years of ...

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