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Statement by the Secretary of State, Mr. Peter Mandelson at Hillsborough, 27 May 2000

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Peter Mandelson at Hillsborough, Saturday 27 May 2000

I would like to congratulate David Trimble on his victory because it is that victory which provides the breakthrough that people in all parts of the community in Northern Ireland have been waiting for. Anyone who has witnessed the events of the last week could not under-estimate the great effort and commitment that David Trimble has shown to this process in getting the result that he and everyone else needed.

All the leaders of all the parties have shown great vision and great imagination in the leadership that they have shown in bringing us to this point. I know that for many unionists it has been a difficult and for very many a painful decision. But then by the same token it has been difficult and painful for many republicans too to produce the statement that they did in response to the Hillsborough statement made by the two Governments. I would like to pay tribute to the parties, to all sides and for the way in which they have stretched their constituencies, they have shown flexibility, they have shown preparedness to see the other people's point of view and moved in a way that has made this breakthrough possible.

It is a start however, not a finish. With the decision today all our difficulties have not disappeared, all our problems have not been solved. The one thing I am clear about is that with political institutions up and running, with politics functioning as they properly should in Northern Ireland, the difficulties we have will be much easier to solve. There will be tensions and there will be bumps in the road as we go forward, but with the institutions properly running those tensions and those bumps will be easier to navigate, certainly than they would otherwise have been.

Northern Ireland today has a second chance to get it right. To get it right and to implement the whole of the Good Friday Agreement which the people of Ireland North and South have voted for. That is what we need to put the conflict behind us, to put the war, to put violence and the threat of violence behind us once and for all. That is what today means, that is the importance of the breakthrough that has taken place today.

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