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theguardian.com

Don’t let Brexit undermine Ireland’s peace | Hillary Clinton | Opinion

‘The principles of the Belfast agreement are more important than ever.’ Stormont. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

 

Hillary Clinton

Twenty years ago, the Good Friday/Belfast agreement helped bring an end to decades of conflict and violence in Northern Ireland. It was a watershed moment – the result of diplomatic efforts within the halls of government and extraordinary actions of ordinary women and men who reached across longstanding and bitter divides.

Today, the agreement stands not only as a local framework for shared understanding, but as a shining example of what’s possible when citizens come together to demand peace, and preserve it across generations. As the world celebrates this significant anniversary, we must also remain vigilant in protecting the agreement in the face of our current challenges – from the uncertainties heralded by Brexit to the hurdles posed by the impasse in devolved government in Northern Ireland – and do all we can to deliver on the unrealised aspirations of human rights and equality that were espoused that day in April 1998.

Even now, I can picture clearly my husband’s first trip to Northern Ireland as president. On a cold winter night in 1995, Bill and I joined thousands of people at Belfast city hall for the lighting of the Christmas tree. As Catholics and Protestants alike came to that spot from their deeply divided neighbourhoods, there was no guarantee that violence wouldn’t break out; yet they came with a sense of hope, after so many seasons of darkness.

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