While policy makers are often limited in what they can do to create the conditions that make a conflict ready for a solution, it is a vital tool in the art of the state to see a chance when it looms. These institutional provisions, established in these three areas of action, are defined in the agreement as „interdependent and interdependent“. In particular, it is found that the functioning of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the North-South Council of Ministers is „so closely linked that the success of individual countries depends on that of the other“ and that participation in the North-South Council of Ministers „is one of the essential tasks assigned to the relevant bodies in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland]. Thatcher`s successor, John Major, was less personally linked to unionism and some attribute to him the fact that he made the important decisions – including the Downing Street Declaration and the Anglo-Irish Framework Document51 – that eventually led to the 1998 peace agreement. Mr Major has undoubtedly shown considerable courage in getting in touch with his Irish counterparts (and indirectly with the IRA). But these actions have amplified the suspicions of trade unionists, and Major`s dependence on trade union votes, because he maintained his parliamentary majority, has reduced his room for manoeuvre, which has led him to point out the lasting cessation of violence and the prior decommissioning of weapons as preconditions for the opening of the Sinn Fein peace talks, tests that have almost brought the process to a standstill. Perhaps the best way to characterize the Agency`s role is to say that the circumstance gave each of the major players a reasonably favourable hand that allowed an agreement, but that everyone played the hand quite skilfully.99 Everyone saw earlier than many others the way to the agreement. You can imagine that others who might have been plausible in their place – even those who shared the same fundamental approach to conflict – may not have sealed the agreement when it was concluded. At the same time, the fact that the agreement was finally implemented by a pact that presented Paisley as prime minister reflects the power of forces that insist on ending the fighting. The Agency has played an important role in the time and precise conditions of the agreement, but is probably much less important in the broader abandonment of violence. 89 The narrative presented in previous sections of this essay is a form of „trial follow-up“ that helps clarify the most important decisions and decision makers.

But in itself, this approach cannot really respond to „what mattered“ – neither as a necessary cause nor as a sufficient cause. This is why a counterfactual analysis is particularly useful. For a discussion of some of the reflections and difficulties, see Jack S. Levy, „counterfactual, causal reference and historical analysis,“ safety studies 24, No. 3 (September 2015): 378-402, doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2015.1070602; Francis J. Gavin, „What if? The historian and the counterfeiter. Safety Studies 24, No. 3 (September 2015): 425-30, doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2015.1070610; and Neil J. Roese, ed., What Might Have Been: The Social Psychology of Counterfactual Thinking (London: Psychology Press, 1995).

We both recognize that such a new agreement is only feasible and viable at that time. While it can win and enjoy the loyalty of the island`s different traditions, moving towards diversity and providing for national reconciliation28 (emphasizing) For the work of the agreement, it was essential for trade unionists to believe that, regardless of the long-term demographic risks they might take, the end of violence by the IRA – and the use of exclusively peaceful means – were not merely tactical means.