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Blair: Northern Ireland offers hope for rest of the world

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Tony Blair

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

THE peace process in Northern Ireland offers hope for other parts of the world trying to end conflict, former prime minister Tony Blair said.

Reflecting on the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement he helped broker, Mr Blair said he believed the settlement achieved in the region would bring lasting peace.

 

But he warned that political problems would still have to be overcome in the future.

 

"Fifteen years ago, when I came to Stormont, there was little expectation of a deal being done," said Mr Blair, who has hailed the 1998 accord as one of his government's greatest achievements in power.

 

"The peace process was in turmoil. But because of the will of the people in Northern Ireland, that historic Good Friday signalled the start of a peaceful future.

 

"Now as I travel to different parts of the world, what happened in Northern Ireland is something that immediately connects with people. It brings hope for other conflicts - from Africa to the Middle East - that a situation that once seemed so bleak can be resolved.

 

"There will be political crises, and there will be continuing problems, but I firmly believe that Northern Ireland will not return to the times of the Troubles. The gains of peace are visible and clear, and there is an overwhelming desire from the people for this to remain.

 

"So 15 years on, we should remember the past but also look confidently towards a peaceful future for Northern Ireland. There can be no going back."

 

Also looking back on the events of 1998, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said a truth and reconciliation process was needed to build on successes already achieved.

 

"The two governments, former combatants and those in leadership across Ireland and Britain need to part of this. There can be no hierarchy of victims," he said.

 

"Fifteen years on there can be no going back. The tiny minorities who want to cling to the past must be rejected. Sectarianism must be tackled and ended.

 

"The promise of the Good Friday Agreement for a new society in which all citizens are respected, and where fairness and justice and equality are the guiding principles, has to be advanced."

Online Editors