Minister Andrews welcomes meeting of Northern Ireland Assembly
I warmly welcome today's meeting of the Northern Ireland Assembly, sitting for the first time in Parliament Buildings, at Stormont. The occasion symbolises in a most potent and meaningful way the new era that has dawned in Northern Ireland. There is a new hope in the air. The coming together of the elected representatives of all the people of Northern Ireland in the Assembly marks an important statement of that hope. The challenge now is to turn hope into reality - to set aside the divisions of the past and build a new and better future, founded on partnership.
With a new era comes the need for a new politics. The 108 Members of the Assembly will be at the heart of this new politics and we wish them well in the tackling of the many challenges which lie ahead. Under the able leadership of First Minister, David Trimble and Deputy First Minister, Seamus Mallon, a very good start has been made to the enormous job of work that requires to be done.
Today's occasion represents a further important stage in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. The Government looks forward to working closely with the Assembly and the other new institutions in Northern Ireland in taking forward the implementation process, including its North/South elements. The new politics and the building of real trust and reconciliation will hold challenges for all of us. In particular, it will require us to find new ways of listening to each other - new ways of understanding the perspective of the other, so that the partnership we are seeking to build is indeed founded on a genuine mutual understanding.
Nobody doubts the scale of the challenges that still lie ahead. But today's session in Parliament Buildings underlines the determination that exists to overcome them, so that the will of the people, as expressed in the referendums on 22 May, can be discharged in full.Top