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New Agreement means Brighter Days ahead for Northern Ireland - Minister Flanagan

MoS Sean Sherlock, Minister Charles Flanagan, Northern Ireland Peace Process, Press Releases, Northern Ireland, 2014

New Agreement means Brighter Days ahead for Northern Ireland - Minister Flanagan

Speaking from Stormont where today (Tuesday), broad agreement was reached in the Northern Ireland Talks, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan,TD, stated:

“Last Sunday was the shortest day of the year. Today’s Agreement therefore is well-timed, signalling brighter days ahead for Northern Ireland and positive news in the days before Christmas.

“The five Northern Ireland Executive parties and Irish and British Governments have been working together for the past 12 weeks.

“It has been a challenging and, at times, difficult process for all concerned involving hundreds of hours of meetings.

“Throughout the days and weeks the Parties and the Governments have remained steadfast and focused on the goal of achieving a broad agreement. I am delighted that today, we have succeeded.

“Today we are building on the hard won peace on this island with a new agreement which aims to further reconciliation and foster economic growth.

“The Agreement, in 75 sections, covers a broad range of political, social and economic issues.

“It sets out a plan for financial and welfare reform.

“It proposes a way forward on flags, identity, culture and tradition through the establishment of a commission.

“It envisages the devolution of responsibility for parades to the N.I. Assembly.

“It establishes a programme of institutional reform at Stormont and progresses a number of outstanding aspects of prior Agreements.

“Very significantly, it establishes a new comprehensive framework for dealing with the corrosive legacy of the Past. This framework includes an oral history archive; a dedicated Historical Investigations Unit which will investigate Troubles-related deaths; and an Independent Commission on Information Retrieval to enable victims and survivors to seek and receive information about the death of their loved ones.

“As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, this Government is conscious of our responsibilities to all of the people of this island. The last three months have involved a huge commitment from both the Governments and from all of the parties concerned. Minister of State Sherlock and I, with the support of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, were privileged to carry out this work. We will continue to advance political progress and to play our part in the implementation of today's Agreement. This will help to ensure that the huge potential in the Agreement is realised.

“I wish to acknowledge the valuable role that Senator Gary Hart played on behalf of the US Administration. I have asked him to convey our appreciation to Secretary Kerry, Vice President Biden and President Obama.

“I'd like to conclude by paying tribute to Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers MP, with whom I have worked very closely throughout. The relationship between our two governments has been strengthened further over the last three months and I look forward to continuing to build on this partnership in the time ahead."