Signed by Margaret Thatcher and Garret FitzGerald at Hillsborough Castle, county Down, on 15 November 1985, the AIA was an international treaty between the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic. It was a multi-dimensional response to the Ulster problem premised on the understanding that the involvement of both states was an essential basis for any solution. At its heart was the Inter-Governmental Conference, established to enable London and Dublin to harmonise their approaches to the North, and in this context the agreement committed both governments to promote the establishment of devolved government in the North based on agreement between the constitutional parties. Until such a government emerged, however, the Irish government would represent the interests of the Catholic community at the Inter-Governmental Conference, Dublin’s role in the government of the North being symbolised by a permanent Secretariat of Irish civil servants at Maryfield, outside Belfast.
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