The European Parliament celebrated the historic signing of the Good Friday Agreement this week with a ceremony organised by a cross-party group of Irish MEPs.
Twenty five years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, MEPs in the European Parliament this week commemorated the peace agreement with a ceremony and panel discussion in Brussels. The Agreement, signed on April 10th 1998 and voted through by referendum on May 22nd of the same year, was approved by 94.39% of Irish voters who agreed to accept the Agreement and amend the Irish Constitution.
The ceremony, co-organised by cross-party Irish MEPs was attended by European Commission, Parliament and Council Presidents Ursula von der Leyen, Roberta Metsola and Charles Michel respectively.
Speaking from Brussels, MEP Grace O’Sullivan reflected on signing of the deal and how the agreement has helped to shape politics both across Ireland and the EU.
“During the lead up to the Good Friday Agreement, I was pregnant with my third daughter. I was aware that the outcome of the vote and the referendum would shape the Ireland that she, and my other children, grew up in. When the Good Friday Agreement was signed in April and passed by referendum later in May in 1998, it gave my daughters a chance to grow up in a post-war Ireland, in a country of peace. Having lived through the reality of having conflict dictate the lives of innocent civilians and to see that transform into peace-building, gives hope that transformative change can happen elsewhere.”
The Good Friday Agreement has shaped both the societal and political fabric of both Ireland and Northern Ireland since it was signed on April 10th 1998. It marked the end of a 30 year long period of violence in Northern Ireland. It created a pathway for peace and reconciliation, and the referendum saw one of the largest voter turnouts in the history of Northern Ireland at 81.1%. The impact of such a historic agreement is still felt across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, as the nations celebrate 25 years of peace and progress.
“At a time of continued tension between London and Dublin following Brexit, it’s important to keep in mind that peace still takes work, even to this day. Earlier we heard strong words of support from the Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. It is an important reminder that the EU has our back in building peace,” O’Sullivan added.