As leaders of our respective parties, we have told each other that we see as our greatest challenge the task of reaching agreement on a peaceful and democratic agreement for all on this island. Sinn Fein, as a party, has its roots in the struggle for Irish independence in the early twentieth century, but its deep involvement in Northern Ireland dates back to the 1960s and, in particular, to the 1969 Congress, when the IRA split between the “official” wing,21 which favoured peaceful policies to protect Catholic rights and the unification of Ireland. and the “provisional” wing that sanctioned the use of force (both to protect the Catholic community and to force the British to abandon Northern Ireland). In the early 1980s, Sinn Fein switched to a dual strategy known as “ballot box and armalite”23 – participation in general and local elections (hunger striker Bobby Sands was elected to the British Parliament in 1981), while it continued its campaign of violence. While worrying, this recent increase in terrorist activity must be seen in its broader context. Dissident republican activities have been ongoing since the split of the dominant Commissional IRA in 1986 over whether it should take its seats in Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Irish parliament). 9 Several of its members left Republican Sinn Fein, a group that formed an armed group in the form of the Continuous IRA, when the Commissionals subsequently declared a ceasefire in 1994. While negotiating the conditions for entry into the peace process, the commissions broke their ceasefire in February 1996 with a giant bombing of London`s financial district. . . .