Pope Francis has said he is praying that the Good Friday Agreement – signed today 25 years ago – can be “consolidated” for the benefit of the people of all of Ireland.
He said it during his Easter Monday speech to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.
“Today marks the 25th anniversary of the so-called Good Friday agreement, or of Belfast, which brought an end to the violence that for decades troubled Northern Ireland,” Pope Francis said, reports RTE.
“In a spirit of gratitude I pray to the God of peace so that what was achieved in that historic step can be consolidated to benefit all the men and women of the island of Ireland,” he added, reports RTE.
Earlier, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praised the courage and compromise shown by leaders who secured the deal, calling for a speedy return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Mr Sunak made “difficult decisions” and showed “political imagination” to end the Troubles.
“So we must get on with the business of governance,” he said in a statement, reports RTE.
Mr Sunak will host US President Joe Biden in Northern Ireland to mark the event, which comes despite the Stormont assembly, key to the deal, not standing still.
The peace brought by the deal also remains fragile, with the terror threat raised amid warnings of possible attacks on police.
Mr Sunak said it was necessary to “recommit to redoubling our efforts” to deliver on the promises made when the agreement was signed on April 10, 1998.
Considered “the beginning of a new chapter,” Sunak said the deal “continues to enjoy huge international support,” as demonstrated by Biden’s visit.
“As we look forward, we will celebrate those who took difficult decisions, accepted compromise and showed leadership, bravery, perseverance, and political imagination,” reports RTE.
The president will attend the events on Wednesday before departing for Ireland, where he will visit counties Dublin, Louth and Mayo.
Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar echoed Mr Sunak’s sentiments.
Mr Varadkar said he would step up contacts with Mr Sunak over the coming weeks to try to restore institutions in Northern Ireland.
“We’re working towards having the institutions up and running in the next few months,” he told RTÉ’s This Week programme, reports RTE.
Tell us your thoughts in the Facebook post and share this with your friends.