In September 1993 SDLP leader John Hume and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams sent proposals to the Irish government on how a united Ireland could be achieved. Wider discussions between local political parties and the British and Irish governments also helped narrow differences. A secret 'back channel' was maintained between government officials and loyalist and republican paramilitaries. In December 1993 the British and Irish governments announced the Downing Street Declaration with proposals for political developments that were generally well received. Following further discussions the IRA announced a ceasefire in late August 1994 and in October loyalist paramilitaries also announced a ceasefire.