The negotiations that preceded the agreement lasted 700 days, more than a year having spent sketching only the procedures and the agenda. One of the keys to Mitchell`s success was the use of the “Mitchell Principles” or preconditions for negotiations, which involved a commitment to non-violence, open communication and democracy. Mitchell also adopted a “sufficient consensus” rule that allowed parties to vote against part of a proposal, while voting for the proposal as a whole. I first met Mitchell during President Clinton`s first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995. Clinton hosted a seminar on social and economic development in the Protestant centre of East Belfast. Mitchell was his economic adviser for Ireland and seemed to be the youngest of a series of well-meaning people from abroad who immerse themselves and immerse themselves in the Irish situation with no significant impact. But I still remember his speech that day: his true affection for the people of both communities in Northern Ireland was even recognizable to someone like me, whose job led him to be skeptical of political figures. He also said that the more businessmen there are in the United States, the talents and skills in Northern Ireland could be better taken into account. But he did not urge them to participate in an act of charity, but to “make a difficult decision in their own economic interest.” George Mitchell, a former Democratic senator from Maine, was President Bill Clinton`s envoy to Ireland and served as chairman of the Northern Ireland peace talks and helped mediate the historic agreement. That has not always been the case. When Mitchell was first introduced as the likely chairman of the peace negotiations in Stormont, there was a lot of hostile reaction in the ranks of trade unionists. Not only was he American, but he also seemed to be part of the North American lobby, friendly with the Kennedys and close to a president far too gentle on Irish nationalists.
In the medieval way of thinking that captures certain elements in Northern Ireland, Mitchell`s religion was another blow to him. Wasn`t he some kind of Catholic? The honourable senator must have wondered what he was getting into. “It`s a new experience for me,” he told a New York Times reporter. “In 30 years of American politics, no one has asked what my religion was or where my parents came from.” “It`s a warm memory of the last day. But as I have often said, on this day of success, we had about 700 days of failure. It was a long and hard grumpy. I have had three separate negotiations over a five-year period, so I have a great memory of Northern Ireland. I went there a lot, I spent a lot of time there.
It`s a really great place. People are great, they are energetic, productive… something confrontational and argumentative, but no one is perfect. Northern Ireland`s heads of state and government have shown tremendous courage and vision to reach this agreement in a very difficult and dangerous context, and so far peace has been maintained. In addition to dealing with recalcitrant politicians who oppose any form of agreement, he has shown skill in dealing with allies who can sometimes be more difficult than opponents. The British Minister for Northern Ireland, Dr Mo Mowlam, paid tribute to his technique: “He would never say no to my idea because he knew I would do it anyway. But he said, “Now, Mo, have you thought about that?” and ten minutes later I changed my mind. After serving the remainder of the term, Mitchell was elected in 1982 with approximately 61% of the vote against MP David Emery in his first full term and quickly joined the Democratic leadership of the Senate.