The main themes addressed by Sunningdale and dealt with in the Belfast Agreement are the principle of self-determination, the recognition of the two national identities, intergovernmental cooperation between the British and Ireland and legal procedures for compulsory power-sharing, such as inter-community voting and the D`Hondt system for appointing ministers to the executive.   Former IRA member and journalist Tommy McKearney says the main difference is the British government`s intention to negotiate a comprehensive agreement including the IRA and the most intransigent unionists.  With regard to the right to self-determination, two qualifications are recorded by the writer Austen Morgan. First, the transfer of territory from one state to another must be done through an international agreement between the British and Irish governments. Second, the population of Northern Ireland can no longer be alone in united Ireland; They need not only the Irish government, but also the people of their neighbouring country, Ireland, to support unity. Mr Morgan also pointed out that, unlike the Irish Act 1949 and the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, drawn up under Sunningdale, the 1998 agreement and the resulting British legislation explicitly provide for the possibility of a unified Ireland.  Thus, two versions of the same 1998 agreement were submitted to the British Parliament; in substance, they are identical, but differ in structure and status. The previous, unconfirmed and unrified version (cm 3883) prioritizes the multi-party political agreement; in the later confirmed and ratified version (Cm4292), priority will be given to the bilateral treaty, namely the Anglo-Irish Convention. The multi-party agreement is an agreement between the Uk government, the Irish government and most political parties in Northern Ireland.
It defines the support of the signatory parties under the Anglo-Irish agreement and provides the framework for various political institutions. It is divided into three areas: ten days after the signing of the agreement, Mo Mowlam, then Minister of Northern Ireland, presented it to Parliament in Command Paper 3883 – essentially a copy of the draft political agreement between the parties in Northern Ireland with an as yet-ratified bilateral treaty between the United Kingdom and Ireland, which is annexed. A copy of the agreement was published in every assembly in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland so that people could read before a referendum where they could vote. As part of the agreement, the British and Irish governments committed to holding referendums in Northern Ireland and the Republic on 22 May 1998.