|Copies of the Northern Ireland Agreement were sent to every home in Ireland
|1998: Leaders welcome 'yes' vote for N Ireland
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has welcomed the resounding "yes" vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, calling it "a day for joy".
The referendum, held yesterday on both sides of the border, returned a resounding "yes" vote with 71% of voters from Northern Ireland and 94% of those in the Irish Republic showing their support for the Good Friday peace agreement.
"This is the result we have worked for and wanted," said Mr Blair. "It's another giant stride along the path to peace, hope and the future."
Three to one have supported the referendum. That is aresoundingvictory for all the people of Northern Ireland.
Mo Mowlam, Northern Ireland Secretary
The agreement signed last Easter seeks to resolve relationships within Northern Ireland - between Northern Ireland and the Republic and between both parts of Ireland and England, Scotland and Wales - and pave the way for devolution from Westminster with a new all-inclusive Assembly.
It was signed on 10 April - Good Friday - by all interested parties except Rev Dr Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and Bob McCartney's United Kingdom Unionist Party. They objected to the presence of the IRA's political wing Sinn Fein in the multi-party talks leading up to the agreement.
The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, told reporters she was delighted with the two nations' endorsement of the agreement.
"An important step forward"
Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble said: "It is quite clear that a majority of unionists - not as big a majority of unionists as I would have liked - but a clear majority - have endorsed this agreement. We have taken an important step forward."
John Hume, leader of the nationalist SDLP, said that for the first time the people of both sides of the Irish border were speaking as one.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said he was prepared to sit down with David Trimble in a new Northern Ireland assembly "now".
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the overwhelming result was the true "voice of the people".
The British Government will press ahead next month with elections for a Northern Ireland Assembly.