MEPs today commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, which brought 30 years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland to an end.
Opening the commemorative ceremony, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola hailed the Good Friday agreement (GFA) as one “which has instilled harmony between people”, adding that there were few examples in history of a “peoples’ peace agreement”. People’s lives in Ireland have been transformed thanks to the agreement, President Metsola said, adding that throughout the years preceding 1998, the European Parliament had provided a platform for the dialogue that led to peace.
European Council President Charles Michel celebrated the Belfast Good Friday Agreement as a "remarkable achievement" steered by visionary leaders who did not fear compromise. It echoed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, he said, citing how the tragedy of World War II inspired Europeans to build a unifying spirit and to draw borders that do not divide. He added that the two historical events are couched in the same ideal – making the most of the richness of diversity.
“25 years ago, the impossible came true”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. The Belfast Agreement opened a new era of cooperation, “it was a new beginning” and since then giant steps forward have been taken. With a commitment to making the Windsor Agreement work, she stressed that “never again will there be a hard border on the island of Ireland.” Peace and prosperity must be won day after day, generation after generation. “The UK may have left, but peace remains the European promise”, she concluded.
In a round of contributions on behalf of Parliament’s political groups, MEPs celebrated the GFA as a historic development that remains essential to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. They reiterated that the Agreement was central to the EU’s negotiating of a post-Brexit relationship with the UK, as was the prevention of a hard border emerging on the island of Ireland. The EU, they said, was not just a passive spectator to the GFA but an engaged party fully committed to delivering on its promises. The EU also has a role to play today in helping to resolve the political impasse in Northern Ireland. Stable cooperation between the EU and UK in the wake of the agreement on the Windsor Framework is essential, with MEPs congratulating the negotiators from the Commission and the UK government on achieving what they called a watershed moment in cooperation between the EU and UK.
You can watch the ceremony here.
The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on 10 April 1998 by the British and Irish governments, and confirmed by referendums in Ireland and Northern Ireland in May the same year. The agreement established devolved political power-sharing structures for the nationalist and unionist communities in Northern Ireland, and brought the 30-year period of violent conflict in Northern Ireland, known as The Troubles, to an end.
Eoghan WALSHPress Officer
Andreas KLEINERPress Officer / Editorial Coordinator