Queen tells Northern Ireland 'reconciliation cannot be taken for granted' on centenary

3 May 2021, 10:52

The Queen made her statement on the 100th year anniversary of Northern Ireland's creation
The Queen made her statement on the 100th year anniversary of Northern Ireland's creation. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The Queen has warned "reconciliation" cannot be taken for granted in Northern Ireland today, a date considered to be its centenary.

Her "warm wishes" come after weeks of disorder and attacks on police officers.

Protests and riots, thought to be sparked by anger at the Brexit deal's effect on Northern Ireland and criticism over a large republican funeral, had erupted across the area.

No large celebrations will mark the creation of Northern Ireland, which happened when the Government of Ireland Act in 1921 partitioned the island of Ireland.

In a statement, the Queen said she "treasured" memories of visiting the area with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Read more: Arlene Foster steps down as DUP leader and Northern Ireland's First Minister

Read more: 'Devastating': Firefighters tackle 'major incident' in Northern Ireland mountains

Political commentator explains the situation in Northern Ireland

"This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity," the monarch said.

"It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment.

Read more: 'If you're a Unionist in Northern Ireland, you feel duped by the PM'

"During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions.

"Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.

"I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland."

Is the Northern Ireland peace process compatible with Brexit?

The Government of Ireland Act transformed the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone into Northern Ireland.

Views on its creation differ between communities. Plans by unionist parties to mark the centenary have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Government plans to mark it include a business showcase in London, a £1 million shared history fund, a programme for young people and academic and historic events.

Community projects to research and show what 100 years of Northern Ireland means have been allocated £1 million.

A centenary rose is also going to be given to the Queen for her garden.

Belfast City Council plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Northern Ireland Parliament on 22 June 1921.

However, recent incidents have demonstrated how major issues remain in communities, with police officers being targeted with explosives and petrol bombs in recent weeks.