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Wednesday, 29 March 2023 - Brussels Provisional edition

Formal sitting - Ceremony on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement

  Chris MacManus, on behalf of The Left Group.A Uachtaráin, it is only right that this house celebrates the Good Friday Agreement and the 25 years of peace and progress it has brought to the island of Ireland. This historic agreement put in place a new constitutional framework in the north of Ireland that would finally guarantee equality, justice and human rights.

The Good Friday Agreement is a peace process and a political process. It’s a living, breathing document. It is a framework which guarantees that the people of Ireland – north and south – will decide whether to unite or whether the North remains tied to Britain. My hope is that, within this decade, the people will be asked to be part of a new Ireland – a modern, forward-looking society based on peace, equality and social progress within the European Union. The future of the whole island is one where we work together for the benefit of all.

Over the years, most of the problems have stemmed from Tory Governments’ failure to act – as the Agreement says they should – with rigorous impartiality. A continued failure to uphold the Agreement. Consistently taking one political side does nobody any favours. It merely delays the progress that we know must happen.

To those who reject the very principles of the Good Friday Agreement, I have a simple message: equality benefits everyone. We should be able to move beyond seeing our neighbours as our enemies. Attempts to deny rights to different groups of people – marriage equality, reproductive rights, language rights – damage the economic and social cohesion of the North. We should all be working together for the benefit of all the people, which is why the Executive in the North must be established without delay. Building an economy that benefits everyone; building a society that works for all, where no one is left behind.

That’s why it is important that this House celebrates the 25th anniversary. And I have no doubt that this House and the EU will continue to play an important role for the next 25 years as the Good Friday Agreement embarks upon its next chapter.

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