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MoS Cannon's address at the consultative workshop on Ireland' 3rd National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325

I am delighted to welcome you all to Iveagh House today and to thank you for your attendance and participation in what I am sure will be a very productive day ahead on a very important issue for all.

The Government of Ireland’s policy on Women, Peace and Security has been enshrined in its two National Action Plans - the first which ran from 2011 to 2014 and the second which was launched in 2015. I am delighted to note that both National Action Plans have gone from strength to strength. As we now develop the third National Action Plan, it is important that civil society and the general public is engaged in the process and we continue that legacy now through your participation and contribution in this workshop today and through the public submission process which has taken place.

Ireland is a strong supporter of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The agenda recognises both the particularly adverse effect of conflict on women and girls, as well as their critical role in conflict prevention, peace negotiations, peacebuilding, and governance. We know equitable, durable and sustainable peace and reconciliation cannot be built without women at the table. We believe that women’s meaningful participation is key to peacebuilding, because we have lived it. Indeed, last year marked both the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland and the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the hallmark of the peace process in Northern Ireland and one in which women played a key role in bringing about sustainable peace.

Ireland believes we have a duty to support women’s participation, leadership and empowerment across the development and peacebuilding spheres. We take that commitment seriously. Our work on Women, Peace and Security involves a whole of government approach across different departments and activities, including advocacy, training, mediation, research, funding, targeted WPS policies, and sharing of experience and expertise.

The Women, Peace and Security agenda has been actively promoted within the Department’s lesson-sharing on Northern Ireland, and Northern Irish women’s groups continue to be funded by the Reconciliation Fund. I welcome the representatives here from Northern Ireland today and those from border counties.

From its inception the development of Ireland’s National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 has engaged in an inclusive whole-of-Island consultation approach which will continue into the future.

Key features of Ireland’s Second National Action Plan included a focus on migrants and refugees in Ireland, understanding the Ireland/Northern Ireland context and a focus on strengthening the EU’s work on Women, Peace and Security. In addition, during this period the Defence Forces also created their own independent National Action Plan.

The Final Review of the second National Action Plan is currently being finalised by external consultants and early indications from the consultants are that the second National Action Plan is performing well. In fact the biggest concern emerging is that we need to do more to capture all the initiatives and work that the Government is doing both domestically and internationally in this important area.

The built-in monitoring mechanisms and the unique dual focus of including the domestic as well as the international and regional in Ireland’s National Action Plans have been highlighted by both the United Nations and the European Union as examples of best practice. Ireland is assisting other EU Member states in the development of their National Action Plans and in particular with enhancing the Monitoring and Evaluation mechanisms for Members States who have current plans.

I welcome participants from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Liberia and the United Nations who have joined us here today.

Across Ireland’s new International Development Policy, A Better World, gender will be key, as a stand-alone priority and as a cross-cutting issue. This policy commits us to prioritising the strengthening of women and girls’ voices in decision-making at all levels.

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda must include a focus on the structural barriers which currently limit women’s political and economic empowerment and we must challenge the stereotypical behaviours and the role they play in the perpetuation of conflict and violence. If Women, Peace and Security is understood as a transformative agenda then we need to engage men as much as women.

It is essential that Ireland practices domestically what we advocate and work for abroad. In the second National Action Plan, under the pillar of Protection, Relief and Recovery, the Department of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána and the HSE committed to actions that relate to people living in Ireland from conflict and post conflict affected countries. It is important that women living in Irish society are protected and made aware of the applicability of the agenda to them and are brought into the drafting process. The notion of having women at the table should be enshrined at every level of the plan.

This event could not have come together without your participation and the hard work of many individuals. I would like to highlight the work of the Chair of the Oversight Group, Ms Nora Owen who will be the moderator for today’s discussions, the members of the Working Group on the 3rd National Action Plan and the staff of the Conflict Resolution Unit here in the Department.

I would also like to thanks our panellists Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Dr Aisling Swaine from the London School of Economics, Dr Catríona Dowd from Concern and Bronagh Hinds for her work on the Final Review of the Second National Action Plan.

In conclusion, while the progress made in relation to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 is positive and welcome, the reality is there is much more for us all to do to ensure this National Action Plan achieves its transformative potential. As we prepare for the 20th Anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in 2020 and campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, today we should consider how to make the best possible plan on gender and conflict that Ireland can achieve.

I am delighted to have been able to join you here this morning and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success with your deliberations today.

Thank You.

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