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Statement by Mark Durkan (SDLP) on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Stormont, Belfast, (8 May 2007)

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Text: Mark Durkan... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Statement by Mark Durkan, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Stormont, Belfast, (8 May 2007)


"The welcome and hopeful events in Stormont today means that we finally have acceptance of the two key concepts of partnership and cooperation as the platform for reconciliation in our society. The SDLP have advocated this approach for over three decades. We welcome the fact that now all the other parties have accepted and embraced our approach. Hopefully we can now get on with the job of building a new prosperity in this region for all our people. This is what they mandated us to do nine years ago when they overwhelmingly endorsed the Good Friday Agreement. That is the job of work we all need to commit ourselves to now.

What is new today is not the possibility of peace, partnership, equality and the new beginning to policing but the acceptance of these by the DUP and Sinn Fein. What makes today different from previous attempts to get devolved government restored and working is that today there is no significant element out to bring things down or trying to bring other people down. When we had the prospect of partnership and peace before there were parties determined to bring things down. That created uncertainty and instability. Now the DUP, who always rejected power sharing in the past, are now committed to it, as are Sinn Fein. They may have done u-turns to get here but they will not be able to do u-turns away from here. Nobody can unlock this it is here to stay.

Whilst for many this is will be seen as a momentous day for many others it will bring a range of conflicting emotions. For the families of the victims of the troubles today will be a reminder of the futility of their loss and they will rightly question what 30 years of violence and tragedy were for. That is why whilst we all look to the future with hope we should never forget our past and those who still carry its worst cost. For too long in our process, the rights and needs of victims have been on hold. The Agreements promise to victims and survivors must now be turned into a reality. That is something which all the parties should now make a top priority."


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