Dublin and London have had to reassert roles as co-guarantors of Belfast Agreement, says Tánaiste

Eamon Gilmore praises role of Irish Association on its 75th anniversary


The British and Irish governments have had to reassert their roles as co-guarantors of the Belfast Agreement, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has told the Irish Association.

Mr Gilmore said in Belfast on Saturday night that Dublin and London had a critical responsibility in helping the Northern Executive address such issues as entrenched division, sectarianism, the past, improving the economy and unemployment.

He said that since the return of devolution in 2007, the British and Irish governments gave the Executive and Assembly the “time and space” to identify local solutions to local problems.

“Over the past 12 months, however, disputes over flags and parades and the ongoing issue of finding mechanisms to deal with the past have required the British and Irish governments to reassert our roles as co-guarantors of the Good Friday agreement,” he said.

Former British prime minister John Major is to visit Dublin next month to speak about the Downing Street Declaration, the Tánaiste also told the Irish Association.

Mr Gilmore said at a dinner marking the 75th anniversary of the association that next month the Government would mark the 20th anniversary of the declaration, which together with the Hume-Adams initiative of the early 1990s created the conditions for the IRA and loyalist ceasefires the following year and the beginning of the peace process.

Mr Major signed the agreement with the then taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, in December 1993. Mr Gilmore told the association that he had asked Mr Major to “set out his thoughts on how far British-Irish relations have come – and how they may yet develop”.

Mr Gilmore said the peace process was as vital and challenging today as it was 20 years ago, but that the challenges had shifted.