A former Irish Minister for Foreign affairs has cancelled a bizarre plan to auction off his original and official copy of the Good Friday Agreement.
Retired Fianna Fail Minister David Andrews had secretly put the document up for auction with a Dublin firm.
Now he has withdrawn it from sale and admitted to the Sunday Independent newspaper that the attempt to sell the document was a ‘misjudgement’.
Andrews told the paper: “I’m withdrawing it from the auction. It was a misjudgement on my part.”
The former Dublin deputy refused to discuss the matter further with the newspaper.
The document which had been offered for sale consists of the final proposal with a cover-sheet memorandum issued only to those present on the last day of the 1998 peace negotiations.
The report says it contains the signatures of the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the then Taoiseach (Irish PM) Bertie Ahern and former US senator George Mitchell among other political luminaries.
Signatures of the then Northern secretary Mo Mowlam, SDLP leader John Hume, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, decommissioning chief General John de Chastelain and Andrews himself are also contained on the document.
The Good Friday Agreement was due to go under the hammer at Whyte’s famous ‘History, Literature and Collectibles’ auction on January 26.
The catalogue for the auction valued the document at up to $6,500.
The Dublin auctioneers charged with the sale had been ‘sworn to secrecy’ in relation to the identity of the document’s owner according to reports.
The auctioneers expected the document to sell for more than the guide price amid claims it might be the only one in existence to bear the signatures of the participants in the Good Friday talks.
The Whyte’s auction brochure said: “The Belfast or Good Friday Agreement was the major political development of the Northern Ireland peace process, and this document is recognised as bringing the long chapter of the Troubles in Ireland’s history to a close. An excellent opportunity to acquire one of Ireland’s most historically important documents.”