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New Year Statement by Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on the need for political progress, (31 December 2004)

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Text: Paul Murphy ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

New Year Statement by Paul Murphy, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on the need for political progress, (31 December 2004)


"As we enter the New Year, I have been reflecting on the progress that has been made in what has been a very busy 2004. Like so many people in Northern Ireland, I am disappointed that we have not yet been able to restore devolved Government.

Yet I am encouraged by the huge steps we have taken towards getting the Assembly and its institutions back up and running. I firmly believe that in the New Year we must channel all our efforts into taking those final few steps together to return power to locally elected politicians.

This season is traditionally a time of hope, thanksgiving and reflection. But it is also a painful time for those who have lost loved ones. Sadly, this Christmas has also seen a global humanitarian disaster of almost unimaginable proportions. At this time, as we remember our own victims in Northern Ireland, it is very moving to witness the generosity of the community here as it reaches out to those who are suffering across the world. It is that generosity of spirit, that instinctive ability to reach out and respond to those in need that gives me real cause for hope as we continue to strive to heal the wounds of our own community.

We must, of course, continue to support all those who have been affected by violence in Northern Ireland, and I remain committed to the complex and difficult process of searching for a sensitive and meaningful way of dealing with the past.

In the wider context, we still face the challenge of tackling organised criminality in the community. It is vital that we continue in our efforts to frustrate, disrupt and bring to justice those involved.

It is deplorable that we continue to hear about racially motivated attacks on people who come to Northern Ireland to make a fresh start. As a Government we are determined to tackle racism, sectarianism, and hostility based on sexual orientation or disability in Northern Ireland. We owe it to everyone to ensure that we continue to build a strong and diverse community for future generations to enjoy.

The route to peace and a comprehensive agreement was never going to be easy. However, Northern Ireland has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade: today this is a safer, more joyful place to live.

There is, however, much still to be done. Let us make 2005 the year in which Northern Ireland is able to declare, with confidence, that it has, at last, completed the journey to peace and stability."


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