Statement by the Minister following the Report of the International Commission on Decommissioning
Today's statements from the International Commission on Decommissioning and from the IRA are historic, and herald a new era in the history of this island.
The Good Friday Agreement offered Irish people a new beginning. Today's developments underpin this new beginning and, in particular, create the conditions for a new template of trust and confidence between the two traditions on this island.
This is the moment for political leaders to be responsive and generous. As Archbishop Eames said last week, the reaction to decommissioning will be as important as decommissioning itself. It is imperative that politics is made to work, and that the nightmarish scenes, such as those from North Belfast, are consigned forever to the pages of history. All the people of Northern Ireland, be they in North Belfast, South Armagh, the Shankill or the Falls, are entitled to benefit from the Good Friday Agreement. It is now the duty of political leaders to deliver.
Today's developments also have profound implications for relations on the island. Across a whole range of areas, there is a deep mutuality of interest between North and South and, indeed, between the peoples of these islands. We must now set about the work of turning this potential into reality. In the North/South institutions we have the means to accelerate that work with vigour and commitment. In doing so, we must harness the new energy that has been released by today's developments, and begin a new, dynamic era on this island at all levels, based on partnership, equality and mutual respect. We simply cannot afford to let this golden opportunity slip.
I should like to congratulate John de Chastelain and his Commission for the dedication, integrity and professionalism with which they are discharging their mandate. The role and mandate of the Commission must be respected and upheld by all who support the Good Friday Agreement.
23 October 2001