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This is an update to Accord issue 8, Striking a balance: The Northern Ireland peace process.  The original publication explores the factors that led to the 1998 Belfast Agreement and outlines the impact of history on current aspirations.  It was updated in print and online in 2003 to include a new article by Clem McCartney that highlights weaknesses in the agreement, including the challenge posed by issues such as decommissioning. He analyses the negative effects of an elite bargaining process on the outstanding issues and argues that a new culture of cooperative politics is required to embed the peace process.