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Tánaiste’s speech in New York on 20 Years of Peace

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr. Simon Coveney, TD, gave an address today at an event organised by Irish Central and Cooperation Ireland to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland.

Recalling the transformation which had taken place on the island of Ireland and in Irish-UK relations since the signing of the Agreement, the Tánaiste spoke of the vital role played by Irish-America and successive US administrations in supporting and facilitating the Peace Process over many years. He said:

“In every chapter of modern Irish history, but most especially through the sad chapters of the Troubles and the dawning hope of the peace process, the influence of Irish America has been profound.”

“Throughout the difficult years, successive U.S. administrations listened, engaged and took some brave risks in pursuit of peace on a small island half-way across the world.”

Referring to the debt of gratitude owed to so many individuals in the US, the Tánaiste made particular mention of the extraordinary contribution made by Senator George Mitchell, describing him as:

“…..emblematic of the friendship, influence and engagement shown by the United States of America towards the island of Ireland, the welfare of our people and the peace process.”

Referring to the current challenges and the need to recommit to the principles at the core of the Good Friday Agreement, the Tánaiste said:

“It is easy to feel negative, easy to be cynical or despondent, easy to cast about for someone to blame. We will not go down that path.”

“Nor will we give credence to those who – even in recent days - glibly claim that the Good Friday Agreement has failed or outlived its utility. That is simply not true. And that kind of reckless talk, ignorant of the history and evolution of peace in Northern Ireland, cannot go unchallenged.”

Emphasising that the lives lost during the Troubles, and those who were injured or bereaved will never be forgotten, the Tánaiste talked of the critical importance of achieving real reconciliation:

“This is the moment for a renewal of the commitment in the Good Friday Agreement to reconciliation – deep and lasting reconciliation.”

“My pledge today is that my Government will continue to support the vital work that the people on the ground in communities across Northern Ireland are doing in progressing reconciliation – true, lasting, sustained reconciliation.”