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Minister Flanagan delivers keynote address at British Irish Association Conference in Oxford

International relations, Ireland, Minister Charles Flanagan, Northern Ireland Peace Process, Press Releases, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Great Britain, 2016

 

Minister Flanagan delivers keynote address at British Irish Association Conference in Oxford

- Minister focuses on Northern Ireland, prioritising progress on legacy institutions
- Welcomes the new Secretary of State for NI's commitment to this issue

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today (Saturday) delivered the keynote speech at the annual conference of the British Irish Association at Pembroke College, Oxford.

The conference focused on the future of the British-Irish relationship and Northern Ireland in the context of the UK referendum on membership of the European Union.

In his speech, Minister Flanagan noted the progress achieved in Northern Ireland in recent years, and reaffirmed his commitment to continuing the work of peace-building and reconciliation. This work will take place alongside meeting the challenges posed by the UK referendum outcome.

Speaking to an audience drawn from across Britain and Ireland, Minister Flanagan said:

“What has been achieved in Northern Ireland over the past decades is extraordinary, but there is a long way still to go. I want to assure you that I, together with my colleagues in Government, will ensure that the important ongoing work of protecting the peace and building reconciliation is pursued just as vigorously as the challenges posed by a UK exit from the EU."

The Minister drew attention to the ongoing work on the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and urged everyone to step up to the task of building a fully reconciled society, drawing links with the centenary commemorations undertaken by the Government this year.

“The challenges, however complex, must be addressed. In my two years as Minister, I have worked consistently to deliver because I believe it is the solemn responsibility of politicians in London, in Belfast and in Dublin to deliver a framework for dealing with legacy issues. This must ensure equality of access for victims and survivors to whatever truth and justice is available in their case and provide a platform for genuine reconciliation in society.”

He continued:

“One aim of the commemorative programme in Ireland was to ‘broaden sympathies without having to abandon loyalties’. I think that sums up my vision of reconciliation. It is not about giving up your own identity or beliefs, it is about understanding the context of other points of view and respecting that difference."

Minister Flanagan also welcomed the commitment of the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to addressing legacy issues, stressing that public confidence, including that of victims and survivors and their families, will be essential to the success of the planned legacy institutions, and said that he looked forward to working together with him in the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement.

ENDS
Press Office
10 September 2016 

 

Notes for editors:

1. The British Irish Association was founded in 1972 with the intention of bringing together politicians, officials, business people, academics, religious leaders, writers and community workers who share an interest in British-Irish relations and support peace in Northern Ireland.

2. The BIA is governed by an executive committee, drawn from Britain and Ireland, and elected at an annual general meeting. The current Chair is Hugo MacNeill.

3. The BIA has no permanent endowment and depends for its continuing existence on grants from official funds as well as individual and corporate sponsors. Since 2012, DFAT has awarded €20,000 annually to the BIA through the Reconciliation Fund to support the BIA annual conference and the organisation’s running costs.

4. The BIA annual conference alternates between Oxford and Cambridge. The 2016 annual conference takes place at Pembroke College, Oxford, from Friday 9 September to Sunday 11 September.