f_0018770_16052 - Irish-British Relations and the...

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The Ambassadors REVIEW 29 Irish-British Relations and the Establishment of Agreed Political Institutions in Northern Ireland Michael Collins Ambassador of Ireland to the United States here is a new era in relations between Ireland and Britain. This generation of Irish and British people and leaders have transformed Irish-British relations—positively and permanently. Ours is a close, complex and difficult history which defies easy summary. But this generation is resolved to leave the past behind. Today’s Ireland is confident, modern and outward-looking. Our self-confidence has allowed us, still conscious of our history but not captured by it, to build a new and lasting partnership of common interests that fully respects our identity and sovereignty with our nearest neighbors. None of what has been accomplished in Northern Ireland over the last decade and more could have happened without the most beneficial transformation in British-Irish relations in over eight hundred years. When, as the first Irish leader ever to do so, the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Bertie Ahern, addressed the Joint Houses of the British Parliament in May 2007, he remembered that “The historical relationship of Ireland and Britain too often seemed as if it could be more accurately measured out in repression and rebellions, over cycles of decades and centuries.” The conflict in Northern Ireland was the terrible consequence and modern symbol of that difficult history between our nations. It was called an ‘intractable conflict,’ with roots too deep in history, polarized by too much violence and paralyzed by antithetical political agendas, to be resolved. But after the work of this generation, by the Governments of Ireland and of Britain, by the political leadership and civil society of Northern Ireland, by our friends in the United States at all levels, we have achieved what many thought was impossible. Political agreement on power-sharing in Northern Ireland; the end of the armed campaigns of the Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries and the full decommissioning of their weapons under international supervision; and the protection of human rights and identities for both communities have all been achieved. T
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f_0018770_16052 - Irish-British Relations and the...

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