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Victims of the Troubles gathered on a Co Down beach to watch the sunrise as they reflect on the Good Friday Agreement PA

Events marking 25th anniversary of Good Friday Agreement take place across island of Ireland

Victims of the Troubles gathered in Co Down to watch the sunrise this morning.

LAST UPDATE | 7 Apr 2023

COMMEMORATION EVENTS TO mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement are taking place across the island of Ireland today.

While the 25th anniversary of the signing of the accord is 10 April, the holy day of Good Friday will always be associated with the diplomatic feat that brought 30 years of bloodshed largely to an end.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams were among those to address a ceremony at Stormont.

Adams said in his address: “We’re all in a better place, and despite current challenges, the future is bright.”

He said countless lives had been saved by the agreement.

“The last 25 years have been up and down, and there have been many twists and turns, but one thing is for certain, we are all in a better place.

“Despite current challenges, the future is bright.”

Adams said the Good Friday Agreement was for everyone and it was “here to stay”.

He said differences of opinion “does not and should not stop us working together”.

In his address to the Stormont event former US Senator George Mitchell said history will judge favourably the politicians who made sacrifices to secure the Good Friday Agreement.

file-photo-dated-200799-of-left-to-right-then-prime-minister-tony-blair-former-us-senator-george-mitchell-and-then-irish-taoiseach-bertie-ahern-at-downing-street-london-to-announce-a-tightly-f George Mitchell with then-Prime Minister Tony Blair and then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 1999 Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Mitchell said people and politicians had rejected violence 25 years ago.

He said: “I believe the greatest heroes were the people of Northern Ireland and their political leaders.

“The people supported, worked for and established a democratic, peaceful process as their preferred form of governance.

“They rejected violence as a way to resolve their differences.”


People from across Northern Ireland’s divided communities have come together at one of the region’s most notorious peace walls to mark the anniversary.

Northumberland Street in west Belfast connects the predominantly Catholic and nationalist Falls Road with the mainly Protestant and unionist Shankill Road.

However, it remains divided 25 years after the historic peace accord with two sets of steel gates which are locked at night for security reasons.

featureimage People standing together before taking part in the human peace wall at Northumberland Street PA PA

The former no-man’s land was today filled with people forming a human chain spanning the gates.

The event was organised by Pastor Jack McKee, whose New Life City Church stands between the two gates.

He said while the agreement has not been perfect, they wanted to mark the fact that the last 25 years were better than the previous 25 years.

Early this morning, some victims of the Troubles gathered on a Co Down beach to watch the sunrise as they looked back on the deal that changed the region’s future and became a blueprint for resolving global conflicts.

embedded271660943 PA PA

In Dublin the names of the nearly 3,600 people who died as a result of conflict in Northern Ireland between 1966 and 2019 were read out loud as part of a ceremony in St Stephen’s Green.

Minister of the Dublin Unitarian Church Rev Bridget Spain said the reading of the names is worthwhile to remember those who died.

featureimage Rev Bridget Spain and Trish Webb Duffy of the Unitarian Church Dublin PA PA

“It was such a waste of life, we don’t want to go back there,” she said.

“It gives those dead people a voice – just for the second it takes to read their name,” she added.

The names included journalist Lyra McKee who was shot dead by dissident republicans in Derry four years ago.

“25 years on (from the Good Friday Agreement), we seem to think that everything is OK,” Spain said.

“If our publicity here makes somebody think back to what it was like then and say: ‘We’re not going there, can we work towards something better?’

“It’s worth it.”

She said it can be very emotional reading the list of names.

The church said the commemoration is the only religious service of its kind in Ireland.

Powersharing collapsed

The anniversary of the historic deal comes as Northern Ireland’s powersharing institutions remain collapsed, in a protest by the DUP over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Despite a fresh framework struck between the EU and the UK Government earlier this year that looked to tweak the operation of the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol, Stormont has not returned.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin visited Belfast yesterday for a number of engagements, including a meetings with relatives of those who were killed during the Troubles.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said today that “political leaders need to recapture the spirit and determination that was seen on this weekend 25 years ago.”

She said: “There is huge international goodwill towards Ireland, a huge appetite for progress, for investment but the economic opportunities that exist will not last forever and will only be properly realised with functioning institutions in place.

So let’s take this opportunity to work for all, to attract investment, to create jobs, to deliver change, to plan for the future.

“We need to restore the political institutions. We need progress. We need ambition,” McDonald said.

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr said today that “the people of Northern Ireland were entitled to peace, it was a right.”

He told GB News: “Only a fool would not welcome peace … what we need to have is political stability, and the institutions that have flown from the Belfast Agreement have not been stable for about 40% of the time [since the Agreement].”

Biden visit

Next week, US President Joe Biden will visit Belfast in a trip to commemorate a quarter of a century since the US-brokered peace accord.

The following week, further events will be held which are to be attended by former US president Bill Clinton and his wife, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

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