Rishi Sunak calls for Northern Irish politicians to 'get on with governing' on 25th anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

10 April 2023, 15:12 | Updated: 10 April 2023, 15:15

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Rishi Sunak has called for Northern Irish politicians to end the deadlock and get back to Stormont, as he praised the Good Friday Agreement on the 25th anniversary of the peace deal.

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Speaking on Monday, the Prime Minister celebrated the "difficult decisions" taken and "political imagination" displayed to end the Troubles.

"So we must get on with the business of governance," he said in a statement on Monday, ahead of talks to get Stormont running again intensifying.

He will host US President Joe Biden in Northern Ireland to commemorate the event, which takes place despite the assembly key to the deal still not sitting.

The peace brought by the treaty also remains fragile, with the terror threat having been raised amid warnings of possible attacks on police.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak said there is a need to "recommit to redoubling our efforts" to deliver on the promise made when the deal was signed on April 10, 1998.

Reflecting on the "beginning of a new chapter", the Prime Minister said the agreement "continues to enjoy huge international support", as demonstrated by Mr Biden's visit.

"As we look forward, we will celebrate those who took difficult decisions, accepted compromise, and showed leadership - showing bravery, perseverance, and political imagination," he said.

"We commemorate those who are no longer with us and the many who lost their lives by trying to prevent violence and protect the innocent.

"And we give thanks to them as we reflect on the new generations that have grown up and continue to grow in a world in which peace and prosperity has prevailed.

"While it is time to reflect on the solid progress we have made together, we must also recommit to redoubling our efforts on the promise made in 1998 and the agreements that followed."

That vision, he said, is of "economic opportunity, prosperity, and stability".

"So we must get on with the business of governance," Mr Sunak continued.

Writing in The Telegraph, he added: "Across a range of measures, the people of Northern Ireland are being directly impacted because of an ongoing lack of locally accountable devolved government.

'What an agreement can't do is heal all that distrust' in Northern Irish politics says Tony Blair

"The UK Government wants to see the Northern Ireland institutions delivering better public services, more investment and a stronger Union based on prosperity... there is no surer way to achieve that than for political parties to come together to get on with the job of delivering on the people's priorities and to make Northern Ireland work."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Northern Ireland is standing at "another crossroads" 25 years after the agreement that he said represents the "very best of what our politics can achieve, the triumph of hope over division, of peace over strife and of prosperity over conflict".

"With political stalemate at Stormont and a period of difficult Anglo-Irish relations, we must use the spirit and the trust built by the architects of the Good Friday Agreement to push us forward to another 25 years of peace and prosperity," he said.

Dissident Republican Parades Held In Derry On Easter Monday
Dissident Republican Parades Held In Derry On Easter Monday. Picture: Getty

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has warned of the potential of dissident republicans launching attacks on police officers on Easter Monday.

MI5 recently raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has insisted the political vacuum in the nation caused by his party's refusal to re-enter Stormont is not to blame.

In February last year the DUP withdrew its support for the powersharing institutions formed by the Good Friday Agreement as it protests against post-Brexit trading arrangements.

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