Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday Agreement’

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

SDLP leader John Hume taking a break during final deliberations of the Good Friday Agreement in April, 1998

Northern Ireland still requires “urgent work” and faces “more tests to come”, US president Barack Obama has said, ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next month.

In a statement issued by the White House yesterday evening, Mr Obama said that the people of Northern Ireland and their leaders had “travelled a great distance over the past 15 years” and “traded bullets for ballots, destruction and division for dialogue and institutions, and pointed the way toward a shared future for all.”

The president warned of further challenges ahead.

“There are still those few who prefer to look backward rather than forward – who prefer to inspire hate rather than hope. The many who have brought Northern Ireland this far must keep rejecting their call,” he said.

Every citizen and political party “needs to work together in service of true and lasting peace and prosperity,” he said. He promised that the US would continue to support the people and political leaders of Northern Ireland.

“I pledge our continued support for their efforts to build a strong society, a vibrant economy and an enduring peace,” he said.

Mr Obama will visit Northern Ireland in June when he attends the G-8 summit of world leaders in Fermanagh. The president said he would reaffirm America’s support for Northern Ireland during that visit.

US secretary of state John Kerry said in a separate statement that the progress made in Northern Ireland was “significant and inspiring” but the promise foreseen in the agreement was “incomplete.”

He described the 15th anniversary as “a call to action to consolidate the gains of the last 15 years.”

“This is an appropriate moment for all parties to rededicate themselves to achieving a shared future and to healing the divisions of the past,” he said.

“A spirit of cooperation and an unwavering commitment to the rule of law are essential to achieving these goals and a necessary condition for unlocking the full economic potential of Northern Ireland.”

The 65-page Good Friday Agreement was signed on April 10th 1998, establishing theNorthern Ireland Assembly and a political framework to advance the Northern Irish peace process.

Mr Obama discussed the peace process with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at meetings during the official St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington last week.