By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA in Washington DC
Politicians must fulfil the promise of the Good Friday Agreement to deliver reconciliation – not just peace, the Taoiseach has said.
Leo Varadkar spoke about the unfinished legacy of the 1998 accord as he reflected on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the settlement that largely ended the conflict in Northern Ireland.
In the traditional St Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill, this year hosted by new Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Taoiseach hailed the achievement of the agreement in breaking the 30-year cycle of violence in Northern Ireland.
“Now we have to complete that work to fulfil the agreement’s promise not just of peace but also reconciliation, build a shared island together,” he said.
“I know the people of Northern Ireland want to see their political assembly and devolved government back up and running, and their politicians working to improve their lives.
“So much has been achieved since 1998. Today, new generations of young people are growing up with no memory of the conflict that their parents endured and, as somebody who grew up in the 80s and 90s when political violence was an almost everyday occurrence, that is something to be profoundly grateful for.”
Mr Varadkar said an end to the political impasse brought on by disputes over Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol could deliver great economic prosperity for the region.
The Taoiseach highlighted the potential he saw in the new Windsor Framework struck by the EU and UK.
“I believe there are now incredible opportunities for economic development in Northern Ireland, especially with the potential of the Windsor Framework recently agreed with the European Commission and the UK Government,” he said.
“Our task now is to complete that mission to help the people of Northern Ireland to build a more peaceful and more prosperous future together.”