Emily O’Reilly speaking at the BIPA in Kilkenny this morning with a useful reminder of how the Belfast Agreement came about:
As a journalist from the early 1980s until 2003, I covered major events from the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement through to the 1998 Good Friday or Belfast Agreement and for several years after that as the Agreement became embedded I covered its ebbs and flows. I lived in Belfast for a period in the late 1980s and witnessed too what happens in the absence of peace.
Looking back I see that what gave momentum to what eventually became the peace process and what gave eventual concrete reality to the process was the willingness of political and other leaders from both sides to step away at times from the tight chains of their tribe and truly give leadership. Some did it knowing they might and indeed did pay a heavy political price.
Others did it aware that the price might be even deadlier than that.