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The New Ireland Forum was established in Ireland in May 1983 by then Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald to discuss ways of bringing peace and stability to the whole of Ireland, and the structures and processes through which this might be achieved.

The Forum was open to "all democratic parties which reject violence and which have members elected or appointed to either House of the Oireachtas or the Northern Ireland Assembly". Unionist parties in Northern Ireland and the Alliance Party declined the invitation to participate, however, so that four parties were represented: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Social Democratic and Labour Party.

The first session was held in Dublin Castle on 30 May 1983 and the final session on 9 February 1984. Submissions were received from a wide range of interested parties (including some Northern Irish Unionists) in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere. Over thirty people individuals and groups gave oral presentations to the Forum, amongst these were the Sean McBride, Irish Episcopal Conference, The Irish Sovereignty Movement, Democratic Socialist Party, Irish Information Partnership, Sen. John Robb on behalf of the New Ireland Group, representatives of the Church of Ireland , Synod of Dublin, Federalism and Peace Movement, Chris and Michael McGimpsey and the Belfast Group of Unionists.

The Forum published its report on 2 May 1984. It outlined three possible alternative structures for a new Ireland: a unitary state (i.e. a 32-county Ireland), a federal/confederal state comprising the current states of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or joint authority, meaning that the British and Irish governments would have equal responsibility for the administration of Northern Ireland.

The British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, dismissed the three alternatives one by one at a press conference, each time saying, "that is out." The response became known as the "out, out, out" speech.



There were 27 members and fourteen alternates.[1]


Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Labour Party

Social Democratic and Labour Party


  1. ^ New Ireland Forum Report, 2 May 1984, CAIN Web Service


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