independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Major toasts 20 years since Anglo-Irish deal

FORMER British Prime Minister John Major was toasted at an event in Dublin to mark the 20th anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration.

Mr Major joined the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore at the Department of Foreign Affairs for a commemorative lecture on the significance of the accord.

Signed on December 15, 1993, by Mr Major and then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, the declaration marked a new beginning in Anglo/Irish relations.

Affirming the right of the people of Ireland to self-determination, it was followed in 1994 by an IRA ceasefire and in 1998 by the Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking at Iveagh House last night, Mr Gilmore said the relationship between Britain and Ireland had "grown steadily for the past 20 years, deepening and expanding".

He added: "Sir John Major joins us at a time of enormous challenge and opportunity for both our countries. In the week when Ireland prepares to exit the EU IMF programme, it is timely to recall how closely integrated our two economies are. Trade between Britain and Ireland supports 400,000 jobs. Economic partnership is not an option, but a necessity."

Mr Gilmore described the declaration as a catalyst for the IRA ceasefire nine months later.

Mr Major had a private meeting with Mr Reynolds, who was unable to attend the function.

Mr Reynolds' wife Kathleen attended the event with their three daughters Emer, Andrea and Cathy and son, Philip.

Mr Major arrived in Dublin with his wife Norma directly from Tuesday's memorial ceremony in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.

Mr Gilmore also attended the memorial.

Irish Independent

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