Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

 

Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Since 1969, over 3,200 people have died as a result of political violence in Northern Ireland. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement lessened the violence in Northern Ireland considerably, making it a safer place to live and allowing its beleaguered economy to prosper.

While these developments are positive steps forward, political differences between the opposing sides of this conflict led to a stalemate, which in 2002 persuaded the Blair government to suspend the Belfast Northern Ireland Assembly and shift power to direct rule from London. Events have now presented an opportunity to move forward.

Last week, a new Northern Ireland Assembly was elected, and at the end of this month, if an administration is formed, rule from Westminster will cease, with Northern Ireland assuming the reins of power for its own self-government.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in expressing his fondest hopes for the success of the Good Friday accords, has stated, ``Enemies would become not just partners in progress but sit together in government, and paramilitaries who used to murder each other as a matter of routine would talk to each other and learn to live with each other.''

Mr. Speaker, these are noble and lofty goals. While no one thought that they would be easy to achieve and many challenges have arisen, combat is now taking place in the political sphere rather than through violent means. Inch by inch, day by day, with focused determination, success is finally emerging.

Mr. Speaker, ours is a significant voice in the global community that must be raised in support of the progress that has already been achieved, and in calling for further efforts to achieve the goals of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.