Gilmore expresses concern about ‘political drift’ in North

International investors and tourists ‘do not see border’, Tánaiste tells UCD conference

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has expressed concern about “political drift” away from the principles of the Belfast Agreement

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has expressed concern about “political drift” away from the principles of the Belfast Agreement

Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 12:49

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has expressed concern about “political drift” away from the principles of the Belfast Agreement.

Mr Gilmore said that, 16 years on, the fundamentals of the peace accord needed to be remembered and restated.

“I’m concerned that there has been political drift from these principles. Human rights suffer when there is any ambivalence about mutual respect,” he said.

Speaking at UCD this morning, Mr Gilmore said he agreed with First Minister Peter Robinson that relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic were now better than ever.

He was opening the Institute for British-Irish Studies conference, entitled ’Constitutions and Culture Wars: Northern Ireland, the Irish State and the North-South Dimension’.

However, he said much more could be achieved and difficult issues that had not yet been negotiated successfully within Northern Ireland remained a “work in progress”. He cited ongoing work on flags, parades and the past.

He warned that the threat of unrest in the summer months could have a very real impact, not just upon business and trade, but on the lives of people in the communities affected.

“The North matters in the South and to the South. Our role of guarantor to the agreement means that we have binding legal obligations in that regard, but our interest is driven by much more,” he said.

“Our vision as a Government is for a prosperous and reconciled Ireland. Our engagement with Northern Ireland is central to this vision.”

He added: “International investors and tourists do not see the border on this small island.”

Mr Gilmore said he had taken practical measures to make the Republic’s embassy network available to assist Northern Ireland trade missions where possible.

Companies and organisations from Northern Ireland had also been included in the work of the Global Irish Economic Forum, he said.

Shared interests on the European front included research funding and the future of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

“We will continue to support those who are driving forward transformative change in attitudes, relationships and communities across Northern Ireland and across the border,” he concluded.