FitzGerald and Hume agreed to create the New-Ireland Forum for the island`s constitutional parties to find a way forward. Union members refused to participate in a predictable manner. The forum, in its «Principles and Realities» chapter, gave rise to instructive and then undervalued agreements on the need for full recognition and institutionalization of the rights and British identity of the Unionists and the Irish identity of the nationalists in all possible settings. At the other end of the political ladder, hard-line Republicans rejected the deal because Dublin recognized British sovereignty over Northern Ireland. The Provisional IRA claimed recognition of the agreement, indicating that its armed campaign had forced the British to make concessions to the nationalists. Sinn Fein simply chose to reject the agreement and denounce it at every opportunity. Paramilitary violence continued on both sides, but it did not escalate significantly. Unionist leaders hailed the agreement with a violent denunciation, calling it a «betrayal» of the British government and spreading violence. The Rev. Ian Paisley, chairman of the Democratic Unionist Party, predicted that the consequences of the agreement would be «too terrible to think about» and warned the Dublin government that «the total anger of the Unionists will fall on your heads.» The British Prime Minister has never been more inconsistent in his attitude and with Protestant trade unionists than during the hunger strike of irish Republican Army prisoners in the spring and summer of 1981. But, in retrospect, it appears that his harsh handling of this crisis triggered a course of events that led to the November 1985 agreement. No one expected the Unionist community or its leaders to like the agreement, but attempts were made to allay the fears of trade unionists to the extent that words could do so.

Both governments promised that Northern Ireland`s constitutional status could only be changed with the agreement of a majority of the population, and acknowledged that the current desire of a majority was not a change.