25th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement – endorsed

Today marks a significant occasion as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement which was formed in April 1998. It was initially proposed by the Conservatives and then the Labour Government with Tony Blair who worked with the Irish Government Taoiseach who was Bertie Ahern. The impact was momentous for Ireland and also in locations such as Brighton in our region. The tragic attack and murders of the Conservative Party took place in Brighton on the 12th October, 1984 when the Party was based in the Grand Hotel for their annual conference.

Early last week the BBC One Show highlighted an Art Exhibition called the Peace Heroines taking place in Ireland. The President of Ireland, Michael Higgins, recently published his comments in support of the exhibition featuring incredible portraits of female supporters of his Nation. He stated that “I know that the women of Ireland, north and south, will continue to rise to this challenge as they have done on so many occasions before, as we carve out a future of sustained, inclusive peace and reconciliation on our shared island.”

When the Government was closing down Parliament for Easter on the 30th of March there was debate called Belfast/Good Friday Agreement: 25th Anniversary which had a very significant session. The MPs who took part included Peter Kyle who is the Labour MP for Hove and he is also the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He was the only Sussex MP who took part in that event but other MPs included Chris Heaton-Harris who is the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who started the debate with these words:

I beg to move, that this House has considered the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. It gives me great pleasure to open today’s debate on the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. This is an historic occasion, not just for the people of Northern Ireland, who have benefited directly from the peace, prosperity and host of other benefits the agreement has brought, but for the entire United Kingdom

Another Conservative MP who corresponded was Simon Hoare from North Dorset who stated we should never forget Brighton, Manchester, Warrington and the Baltic Exchange, to name just a few.” The contribution from Peter Kyle was one of the meaningful contributions. His comments that day included these following words

Twenty-five years is a very significant milestone. An entire generation has grown up since the people of Northern Ireland chose an end to violence. The Secretary of State referred to the event in Speaker’s House attended by representatives of the Youth Parliament from across Northern Ireland: they were not just a credit to young people in Northern Ireland, or to the Youth Parliament; they were a credit to all of us. As the conflict recedes into the distance, it might be easy to forget how much real progress has been made in that time. This is a real blessing. Children growing up today in Northern Ireland have not experienced and will not experience the routine violence that scarred communities for so long. However, we can never forget that more than 3,500 people lost their lives in that part of our United Kingdom. People and communities were exhausted by the conflict. It is one of the Labour party’s proudest legacies that we, in government, were able to seize the moment and find a way forward. In April 1998, leaders from across political divides and communities decided that a new future was possible. That future was only there to grasp because a generation believed in their hearts that radical change was not just possible, but was deliverable in that moment.

It is vital that along with Peter that the other Sussex MPs will acknowledge the aspect of the Good Friday Agreement but sadly, most of our MP’s have never referred to the Good Friday Agreement in Parliament. I would welcome MP comments in the future, now that we have reached the 25th Anniversary. There are only three current MPs who have referred to the Good Friday Agreement on several occasions in the past. They are Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion and Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes. Along with them the contributions from Peter have been very meaningful and he did speak about it before he became the Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.  Peter, Caroline and Maria have all spoken very positively which is something we should be very much appreciate for our region.

Previously two other current MP’s Nusrat Ghani, the MP for Wealden who is a minister did refer to the agreement in a discussion of a recent Bill so it was not a significant comment. Also, Tim Loughton, the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham mentioned about it in 2020 during a discussion about another Bill and indeed he was criticising the EU. Sadly, none of other current MPs have referred to it, but some previous MPs from Sussex did mention it once in the past. They were Desmond Turner, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Nigel Waterson, Conservative MP for Eastbourne and Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP for Mid Sussex. We now need all of our Sussex MPs to endorse the very positive impact of the Good Friday Agreement to acknowledge the value in Ireland and also the benefit for our communities and indeed the rest of the UK.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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