The 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement provides an opportunity to reflect on the immense contribution of David Trimble and John Hume, and in 2007 Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. Northern Ireland's power-sharing governance and cross-community institutions miss their courage, commitment and leadership. Today, Northern Ireland needs the vision and values of these sadly departed leaders to resolve the current absence in democratically-elected self-government.
The Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement is built on the principles of consent, cross-community power-sharing and respect for the identities and traditions of all the people of Northern Ireland. The current representative deficit at the Stormont Assembly confirms the Agreement is not perfect - neither in the breach nor the observance - but in a world of flux and uncertainty the Good Friday Agreement delivered a hard won but increasingly fragile peace.
The Agreement's imperfections serve to remind us that, in the end, it is all there is. It created a window for reconciliation and healing that appeared to utterly change Northern Ireland. By doing so, it helped to improve British-Irish relations across these islands. For many of the Irish in Britain who had been touched by the death and destruction of the conflict, the Agreement was a deeply emotional moment.
We now cherish the reality that there is a new generation of young people in Northern Ireland who have known only peace and since 1998 the default lived experience is largely one of stability. Today, it is a shared and urgent responsibility of everyone on these islands to help realise the vision of the Agreement's signatories. To do this we must ensure our current representatives understand that the institutions that delivered the peace of the last 25 years have to be nurtured and restored to fully functioning health.
Brian Dalton, CEO Irish in Britain
Darren Murphy, Chairperson Irish in Britain