The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, in 1998, during the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, voters were asked whether they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and authorize the necessary constitutional amendments (Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland) to facilitate it. The two lawyers had to approve the agreement for it to enter into force. Thatcher hoped to conclude a bilateral agreement with Dublin that would strengthen security while recognising the «Irish dimension»: the historical and cultural relations between the Republic and Northern Ireland. By recognising these Irish ties and granting Dublin an advisory role in Northern Ireland, without relinquishing British sovereignty, Thatcher hoped to attract moderate nationalists to the six counties. In a context of political violence during the unrest, the agreement committed participants to «exclusively democratic and peaceful ways to resolve disputes over political issues.» This had two aspects: the main problems that Sunningdale raised in the Belfast Agreement are the principle of self-determination, the recognition of both national identities, Anglo-Irish intergovernmental cooperation and legal procedures to make power-sharing compulsory, such as community voting and the D`Hondt system for appointing executive ministers.   Tommy McKearney, a former IRA member and journalist, argues that the main difference is the British government`s intention to negotiate a comprehensive agreement by involving the IRA and the more intransigent unionists.  With regard to the right to self-determination, the jurist Austen Morgan cites two qualifications.
Firstly, the transfer of territories from one State to another must be done through an international agreement between the British and Irish Governments. Secondly, the people of Northern Ireland can no longer bring a united Ireland alone; they need not only the Irish Government, but also the citizens of their neighbouring country, Ireland, to support unity. Morgan also pointed out that, unlike the Ireland Act 1949 and the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, drawn up under Sunningdale, the 1998 Agreement and the resulting UK legislation explicitly provided for the possibility of a united Ireland.  The trial came up against a short difficult period in September, when Ms Thatcher Hurd was involved in a major cabinet reshuffle and moved her from the Northern Ireland office to that of Home Secretary. Christopher Patton, one of his junior ministers, who had the sensitive task of having political discussions with the Northern Irish parties, was transferred to the Junior Ministry of Education. Once again, these changes seemed to indicate that Northern Ireland was not very important to the concerns of the British mainland. The press reaction in both London and Dublin was negative, especially since Tom King, Kurd`s successor, was not a well-known political figure. Like most of his predecessors, he had no experience and little knowledge of the North. When it became clear that the deal was already well underway and that its details would be decided by the prime minister himself, those concerns dissipated. . .