Senator George Mitchell with Mary Robinson, President of Ireland, 1990-1997
After his retirement in 1995, Senator Mitchell was appointed by President Clinton to serve as Special Advisor to Northern Ireland. On November 28, 1995, British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Taoiseach John Bruton issued a joint communique announcing the "twin-track" system, calling for the formation of the International Body to examine the decommissioning of guerilla arms in Northern Ireland and setting a date in February 1996 to open all-party peace negotiations.
As Chairman of the International Body, Mitchell gathered background information regarding the conflict in Northern Ireland. During December of 1995 and January of 1996, the International Body received hundreds of submissions and testimonials from individuals, groups, and corporations concerned with the quarter-century of violence and political unrest in Northern Ireland. Also referred to as the Mitchell Commission, the Body interviewed a number of British and Irish political and religious leaders in an attempt to discern whether various paramilitary groups would voluntarily surrender arms as a precursor to peace negotiations.
The Mitchell Report, released on January 24, 1996, called for a phasing-out of guerilla weapons in Northern Ireland in addition to elections prior to the opening of peace talks. The report was lauded by both British and Irish governments, but the end of a 16-month ceasefire by the I.R.A. in February of 1996 delayed the peace process. Mitchell's mission was eventually completed on April 12, 1998 with the signing of a three-stranded multilateral peace agreement which was approved by public referendum on May 22, 1998.
The history of the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process
1998 Nobel Peace prize announcement http://www.nobel.se/peace/laureates/1998/press.html
Northern Ireland Office
The Northern Ireland Conflict
The Irish Times