Friday 18 January 2019

Major to praise Reynolds' work for peace in North

Cordial relations: Albert Reynolds and John Major at Downing Street in 1993. Picture: Reuters
Cordial relations: Albert Reynolds and John Major at Downing Street in 1993. Picture: Reuters

Liam Cosgrove

Former British prime minister Sir John Major will visit Longford today to pay tribute to the late Taoiseach Albert Reynolds' contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process.

This week marks 25 years since the Downing Street Declaration was signed by Mr Major and Mr Reynolds, who is the midlands county's most famous son.

That declaration affirmed the right of the majority in Northern Ireland to determine the entity's constitutional status, reaffirmed nationalist civil rights, and stated Britain no longer had any colonial designs on Northern Ireland.

It is seen by many today as a milestone on the road to the Good Friday Agreement, which came less than five years later.

Former Conservative party leader Mr Major, who had a close relationship with the late Mr Reynolds, will take centre stage at the 'Inaugural Albert Reynolds Memorial Lecture' at Longford's Backstage Theatre this afternoon.

Prior to his address, Mr Major will meet members of the Reynolds family. Following the address, a reception will be held for Mr Major at the Longford Arms Hotel.

Fianna Fáíl councillor Mick Cahill, who initiated calls for a special event to mark Mr Reynolds' contribution to the peace process, said the occasion had been a long time coming.

"I just felt it was very important that we as a county recognised the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Downing Street Declaration and the major role that Albert Reynolds had, not just in that, but in the wider peace process," he said.

"The fact that John Major is coming to talk on that very subject presents a fantastic opportunity for people to experience it live.

"When you think that he [Mr Major] accepted the invitation, it shows just how highly he thought of Albert and the significant role that he played in the process."

Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin is also expected to address those in attendance at the event prior to Mr Major's speech.

More than 10 former ministers in Mr Reynolds' cabinets will also be present.

In anticipation of the former British premier's arrival, a number of road closures have been announced.

These include the L1127 from its junction with the R397 at Ballymacormack to its junction with the L 3013 at Lisduff Cross, which will be inaccessible from 2pm until 6pm.

Local diversions will apply and proof of residency is likely to be required in order to access the road.

Irish Independent

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