Minister Andrews welcomes Assembly decision
I want to welcome very warmly the vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly yesterday. The endorsement by such a large majority of the Report of First Minister, David Trimble, and Deputy First Minister, Séamus Mallon, represents a major step forward in the process of implementing the Agreement. It sets in motion the final steps towards the establishment of the new Executive, the North/South Ministerial Council, the North/South Implementation Bodies, the British/Irish Council and the Civic Forum.
The establishment of the institutions is, of ccourse, critical to the success of the Agreement as a whole. In enabling the representatives of the different traditions to work together in partnership and common cause, they will be vital to the underpinning of the new beginning signalled in the Agreement. The vote in the Assembly yesterday represented a critical milestone in the path to making all of that a reality. It also underlined the sense that, despite the difficulties that remain to be overcome, very real and tangible progress is being made and that the hope engendered by Good Friday is indeed going to be realised.
In the same vein, I want also to welcome the meeting today for the first time at delegation level between the UUP and Sinn Féin. Building on the work of David Trimble and Gerry Adams in their bilateral contacts, today's meeting marks another step in the normalisation of politics in Northern Ireland. Both parties deserve credit for the constructive approach they are adopting in seeking to ensure that the future is very different to the past. This is the kind of politics - the politics of dialogue and inclusion - the people voted for, North and South, on 22 May and I am sure that there will be a wide welcome for today's important development.Top