PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins says there are no “easy solutions” to the problems facing Northern Ireland.
Speaking at the the garden party for members of the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly at Áras an Uachtaráin he said issues such as “collective identity, symbols, and the painful legacy of a fractured past” are ongoing.
However, he said the “work of politics is ongoing, more replete with possibilities than difficulties”.
President Higgins said: “We should rejoice in the length of road already travelled towards permanent and constructive peace in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking about his time in the UK, the president said it was an “honour” for him to be able to address both Houses of Parliament at Westminster.
“To be thus invited to speak to an institution which, over the centuries, has enabled the British people to gradually find their full democratic voice, was a very moving experience,” he said.
He said it was “inspiring to stand in a place where, for more than a century, many hundreds of dedicated parliamentarians, in their different, and often in the fullness of their dissonant ways, represented the diverse interests and aspirations of the Irish people”.
Such distinguished figures as Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Kettle, and Constance Markiewicz – the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons who, of course, chose not to take her seat but, rather, to represent her constituents in the first Dáil Éireann.
He commended the parliamentarians on their work together and for managing to “give life and substance to the North-South Inter-Parliamentary Association, the establishment of which had been envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement”.