The agreement establishes a framework for the establishment and number of institutions in three «policy areas». On the Unionist side, the «no» campaign was much stronger and highlighted what was presented as a concession to republicanism and terrorism, particularly the release of paramilitaries sentenced to prison (often those who had killed friends and relatives of Unionist politicians and were serving «life» prison sentences) the presence in government of «terrorists» (by which they meant Sinn Féin). the lack of downgrading guarantees, the one-way street of the process towards a united Ireland, the lack of confidence in all those who would implement the agreement, the erosion of British identity, the destruction of the Royal Constabulary, the vague language of the agreement and the hasty nature in which the agreement was written. Political parties in Northern Ireland, which endorsed the agreement, were also invited to consider the creation of an independent advisory forum, with members of civil society with social, cultural, economic and other expertise, and appointed by both administrations. In 2002, a framework for the North-South Consultation Forum was agreed, and in 2006 the Northern Ireland Executive agreed to support its establishment. The agreement required the transfer of authority over certain policy areas from the British Parliament to a newly created assembly in Belfast and paves the way for paramilitary groups to give up their weapons and join the political process. It has helped to sharply reduce violence and the annual number of conflict-related deaths, which peaked at 480 in 1972, has fallen to one figure in recent years. The agreement reached was that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and would remain so until a majority of the population of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland wanted something else. Should this happen, the UK and Irish governments will be required to «have a binding commitment» to implement this decision. The leaders of Óglaigh na hÉireann officially ordered the end of the armed campaign. That will take effect this afternoon from 4 p.m.
All IRA units were ordered to drop weapons. All volunteers were ordered to support the development of purely political and democratic programmes by exclusively peaceful means. Volunteers may not participate in any other activity.. . . .