The Three Strands

The Agreement sought to build relationships within Northern Ireland; between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; and between Britain and Ireland.

It is divided into three strands:

  • Strand One set up the power-sharing Assembly and Executive. It also set up a Civic Forum which no longer exists.
  • Strand Two established an Irish dimension to the governing arrangements for Northern Ireland. The North–South institutions (the North–South Ministerial Council (NSMC) and the North–South Implementation Bodies encourage co-operation that benefits both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This is important for nationalists; and
  • Strand Three established ‘East–West’ institutions (the British–Irish Council and the British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference) to encourage co-operation and develop good relations between Britain and Ireland. These are forums where the two Governments discuss Reserved Matters which are not the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
The Three Strands | Northern Ireland Assembly Education Service


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