The agreement was reached between the British and Irish governments as well as eight northern Ireland political parties or groups. Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the early 20th century, and two small parties linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Two of them have been widely described as nationalists: the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the Republican party affiliated with the Provisional Republican Army.   Apart from these rival traditions, there were two other assemblies, the Inter-Community Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition. There was also the Labour coalition. U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell was sent by U.S. President Bill Clinton to chair the talks between parties and groups.  Negotiations were lengthy and stagnated to a large extent at the end of 1997.
70 In January 1998, the British and Irish governments presented a brief document negotiated with Trimble.71 In March 1998, Mitchell announced a deadline of 9 April to conclude the talks. The choice of date was not entirely arbitrary, as the legislation put in place by the Forum was due to expire in May 1998.72 Mitchell also felt that the agreement had to be concluded and a ratification referendum was held before the “walking season” of July, a period of high tensions in Northern Ireland73 The parties reached an agreement on Good Friday April 10. , 1998, after secondary interventions by Blair (in the form of a written letter) and Clinton (in the form of a telephone call with Trimble) who should assure trade unionists that the agreement would not be implemented if the IRA did not advance the dismantling. In total, the formal discussions lasted 21 months. At the same time, it is conceivable that the 1998 agreement may have failed. It is plausible that decisive decisions could have followed a different path before the agreement – Ahearn`s decision to review the agreement he had reached a few days earlier on the north-south institutions, Trimble`s willingness to accept Blair`s promises on dismantling or Mitchell`s decision to set a fixed deadline.