Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to ensure that the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is commemorated appropriately – not only marking the successful completion of an historic agreement, but also acknowledging the progress made across all communities over the past two decades.
Deputy Smith commented, “The Good Friday Agreement marked a watershed moment in our country’s history, when on the 22nd May 1998 people on the island of Ireland were given the opportunity to vote on their country’s future. With 94.39% of the population in the Republic, and 71.12% in the North voting “yes”, it was a remarkable achievement.
“It would have been difficult to believe then, just how far things would come in the intervening 20 years. Peace and reconciliation has had an extraordinarily positive impact on both sides of the border. Even though the EU is not explicitly mentioned in the Good Friday Agreement, it underpins the agreement and I would like to see a significant input from the European Union to mark the anniversary.
“The agreement would not have been possible without the EU, as our joint membership and the many bilateral meetings held between British and Irish Ministers and officials every week, often on a daily basis, played a vital role in thawing and improving relationships between both islands.
“I am disappointed, however, that coming up to this prestigious event, Northern Ireland is without an Executive and Assembly. I sincerely hope we will have those institutions back up and running and representing the people of Northern Ireland. The one mandate we all have on this island comes from the referendum of May 1998 but unfortunately, the will of the people in Northern Ireland, is not being implemented at present. What has passed for politics in Northern Ireland for the past 12 months is totally unacceptable.
“I welcome Minister Coveney’s commitment to hold commemorations and events on our island, in Washington and elsewhere. I hope that these commemorations will be fully inclusive – the Minister might consider involving schools, community groups and cultural organisations to represent the diversity of this island, the extraordinary people who live here and the positive influence that peace has brought over the past 20 years”.