Cookies on the DFA website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site while also complying with Data Protection requirements. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.

Minister Flanagan addresses ceremony in memory of Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs, Judith Cooke

Minister Charles Flanagan, Press Releases, Great Britain, Ireland, 2016

 

Minister Flanagan addresses ceremony in memory of Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs and Judith Cooke

Tree planting at Glencairn commemorates their lives 40 years after the IRA bomb attack

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, joined the British Ambassador to Ireland, HE Dominick Chilcott and members of the Ewart-Biggs family, among others, at a simple tree-planting ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the murders of Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs and his colleague Judith Cooke in an IRA bomb that injured two other people in 1976.

In his remarks at the event, Minister Flanagan stated:

“The two deceased individuals that we remember today demonstrate the great sacrifices which were demanded of too many during dark days in order to bring peace to Ireland and place reconciliation and friendship at the heart of the relationship between Ireland and Britain. And we should also remember all those survivors who did their duty during these dark times so that we can enjoy better days – not least the late Sir Brian Cubbon and Brian O’Driscoll who were injured on that terrible day.”

Minister Flanagan reflected on the appalled reaction to the atrocity in Ireland and quoted his predecessor in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, who delivered the eulogy at the memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Minister Flanagan said that Dr. Fitzgerald had “summed up the feelings of many” when he said:

‘No doubt the perpetrators calculated, with their unfailing lack of insight or understanding, that Anglo-Irish relations would be severely weakened, perhaps permanently damaged by such an atrocity. That the opposite has been the case is now evident to all. Our two peoples, whose pasts have been so closely linked for ill and for good throughout eight centuries, have confounded our common enemy by responding to this tragedy with a deepened sense of our close interdependence, and of our common interest in combating violence and averting anarchy.’

Minister Flanagan commended the Ewart-Biggs family, in particular the late Baroness Jane Ewart-Biggs who, following her husband’s murder, dedicated herself to improving bilateral relations between Ireland and Britain and established the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. The Minister said:

“Jane’s lived example of tolerance and her work as an emissary of goodwill to Ireland were the embodiment of the principles which are the foundation of the peace process - reconciliation, respect and reciprocal generosity.

“Through the establishment of the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and their steadfast friendship to Ireland, the Ewart-Biggs family have turned a dreadful event for them personally into a positive legacy for this country. The work of literature and scholarship which the Prize has promoted is emblematic of Christopher’s own vision for the relationship between Britain and Ireland.”

Minister Flanagan also paid tribute to H.E. Dominick Chilcott who is now at the end of his tenure as British Ambassador to Ireland after an active and busy four year term.

ENDS
Press Office
25 July 2016

Note to Editors:

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD at tree-planting ceremony at British Ambassador’s residence to mark the 40th anniversary of the deaths of Christopher Ewart-Biggs and Judith Cooke

A Ambasadóir, a chairde agus a dhaoine uaisle,

Ambassador, friends, ladies and gentleman,

I am honoured to be with you today for this important and poignant anniversary.
During the course of the Troubles the people of Ireland had all too many moments which shocked them into a sense of outrage and deep sadness but 1976 stands out in particular. It was a most violent year and the murders of Christopher Ewart-Biggs and Judith Cooke, not far from this spot, profoundly shocked and appalled the people of this country.

Ambassador Ewart-Biggs had only arrived in Ireland less than two weeks previously – an experienced diplomat whose mission was full of promise and potential – while Judith Cooke was a young civil servant at the beginning of her career.

My predecessor, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, delivered the eulogy at the memorial service held at St Patrick’s Cathedral, summing up the feelings of many when he said:

‘No doubt the perpetrators calculated, with their unfailing lack of insight or understanding, that Anglo-Irish relations would be severely weakened, perhaps permanently damaged by such an atrocity. That the opposite has been the case is now evident to all. Our two peoples, whose pasts have been so closely linked for ill and for good throughout eight centuries, have confounded our common enemy by responding to this tragedy with a deepened sense of our close interdependence, and of our common interest in combating violence and averting anarchy.’

The fact that this close interdependence and common interest has since been converted into firm friendship between our two countries would have given great satisfaction to both Christopher and Garret.

Christopher had come to Ireland wishing to make his personal contribution to peace and reconciliation between the peoples of Ireland and Britain. After his death, his wife Jane generously carried on that noble legacy. In that same eulogy, Garret asked Jane and her family for their “compassion” and commended her courage and charity to maintain the full dedication of Christopher’s commitment to peace. Jane’s lived example of tolerance and her work as an emissary of goodwill to Ireland were the embodiment of the principles which are the foundation of the peace process - reconciliation, respect and reciprocal generosity.

The presence of Kate and Mairlie here today is a further demonstration of that forgiveness, compassion and generosity of spirit. I am honoured to be in their company.

Through the establishment of the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and their steadfast friendship to Ireland, the Ewart-Biggs family have turned a dreadful event for them personally into a positive legacy for this country. The work of literature and scholarship which the Prize has promoted is emblematic of Christopher’s own vision for the relationship between Britain and Ireland.

Jane described that vision thus:

“direct and truthful and which, without ignoring the lessons of the past for the problems of the moment, concentrated on future opportunities to solve our problems and to achieve our common aims as partners in Europe. I know that even after two weeks he was happy in the realization that he was on the way to creating this relationship. He hoped that it would help reason and peace to prevail over misunderstanding and violence.”

The two deceased individuals that we remember today demonstrate the great sacrifices which were demanded of too many during dark days in order to bring peace to Ireland and place reconciliation and friendship at the heart of the relationship between Ireland and Britain. And we should also remember all those survivors who did their duty during these dark times so that we can enjoy better days – not least the late Sir Brian Cubbon and Brian O’Driscoll who were injured on that terrible day.

Politicians, diplomats, civil servants and others have continued to exert great efforts to realise the vision of Christopher Ewart-Biggs, of Judith Cooke and their families,that the citizens of Ireland and of Britain might enjoy peace and prosperity bonded together by neighbourly friendship.

Our host, Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and his wife Jane have made their own signal contribution to that ongoing work. Thank you both for hosting this moving and reflective occasion that both honours the memory of Christopher and Judith and calls us to make good on their inspiring legacy.

Ends