Bookmark and Share

Republicans urged to 'complete journey' to democracy

In his speech to the Labour Party Conference this afternoon, the Northern Ireland Secretaryof State, Dr John Reid made a plea to republicans to "complete your journey to democracy" and put an end to violence.

Directly addressing the republican community, he urged republicans to bring forward steps to allay doubts and fears within unionism, saying that if partnership with unionists is to be sustained, "then you need to convince them, to reassure them".

The Northern Ireland Secretary was clear in how he thought republicans could "reassure" unionists:

"You cannot continue to ride two horses at once. Especially if the two horses are as far apart as violence and democracy," he said.

"In short, the people of Northern Ireland are asking you now to have the courage of your democratic convictions. Complete your journey to democracy."

However, Dr Reid said the government was convinced that the republican leadership is "committed to pursuing its aims for a united Ireland through democratic means".

He also called on political representatives from both nationalist and republican traditions to make moves to "reassure" their opposite numbers.

In his speech, Dr Reid was scathing is his dismissal of the belief that the agreement can be renegotiated, saying: "It’s sometimes said that there are politicians in Northern Ireland who would be rendered speechless if the word 'no' was taken out of the English language.

"There is no fantasy agreement out there in a fantasy Northern Ireland where you can negotiate an agreement with the British government, or with yourselves for yourselves. So, to those who doubt the government’s conviction let me say: we will not wind back the clock."

The Secretary of State also emphasised the positive impact the agreement had made on society in the north in terms of economic growth, rising living standards and falling employment. He then drew upon the comparison between the rates of sectarian murder before and after the agreement, and challenged the anti-agreement elements to recognise that progress had been made.

He said: "[There has been] A reduction in the tragic death toll, from almost 500 a year at the height of the troubles, to one hundred, then 19 last year and seven this year. Seven deaths are still seven too many, but it’s a damned sight better than 500 a year and it’s about time that was recognised by the detractors of the agreement."

Dr Reid added that the there was "no limit to this government’s commitment to the values of the agreement," and as such he pledged "endless patience and endurance" to see the agreement through.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

17 August 2001
Policing plan for Northern Ireland is announced
Secretary of State Dr John Reid announced the updated policing plan for Northern Ireland on Friday.
10 April 2013
Cameron Hails Good Friday Agreement
Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the Good Friday Agreement to mark the 15th anniversary of the power-sharing deal. "I have no doubt that the Agreement was a truly momentous event in the history of Northern Ireland," he said.
16 May 2006
Children's park named in honour of Mo Mowlam
A children's park within the grounds of the Stormont estate has today been named after former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam. Ms Mowlam, was one of the most popular and respected NI Secretary's during the her time in office between 1997 and 1999. She died in August last year after a lengthy illness at the age of 55.
21 October 2003
NI elections to take place in November
New assembly elections for Northern Ireland are set to take place on November 26, the Government confirmed today. The announcement came following intensive negotiations between Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams as well as both the British and the Irish governments.
24 October 2002
Murphy appointment broadly welcomed in NI
Following Dr Reid's departure to take over as chairman of the Labour Party, Northern Ireland's political parties broadly welcomed the announcement that Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is the new incumbent at Hillsborough Castle.
15 June 2001
NORTHERN Ireland Secretary of State Dr John Reid has confirmed that political talks will commence on Monday June 18 between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern and Northern Ireland’s party leaders.
29 May 2012
Access To Republic Of Ireland Digital TV Channels Confirmed For Northern Ireland
TV viewers in Northern Ireland will be able to watch TG4 and RTÉ One and Two on Freeview following digital TV switchover, the UK Government confirmed today.
13 February 2002
Reid tells Americans 'Northern Ireland people understand'
The Secretary of State John Reid has told the Americans that the people of Northern Ireland understand how they feel in the face of the threat of terrorism.
22 November 2001
Reid warns against Protestant isolation in Northern Ireland
In a speech to students in England the Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said that Protestants must not feel rejected as a result of the developing peace process in the province.
13 June 2005
The 2005 Birthday Honours List for Northern Ireland
The full list of recipients of honours in the 2005 Birthday Honours list for Northern Ireland is as follows: Knighthood: Mr Hugh Orde OBE, Chief Constable, Police Service of Northern Ireland - for services to Northern Ireland. CBE: Mr Robert David Stewart Campbell, Belfast - For Political and public service.
06 July 2001
TALKS aimed at rekindling the future for the Good Friday Agreement took place at Hillsborough Castle on Friday, July 6. The Secretary of State, Dr John Reid, met with the main pro-agreement parties in an attempt to break the political impasse in Northern Ireland.
21 June 2001
THE IRA has come under increasing pressure from the SDLP and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to deliver decommissioning before the end of the month.
08 December 2017
Brexit: PM Strikes Deal With EU
Prime Minister Theresa May has struck a deal with the EU to move Brexit talks onto the next stage. There will be no "hard border" between Northern Ireland and Ireland and leaders of the other EU nations will decide whether or not talks will move forward.
30 November 2017
Number Of People Living With HIV In NI Exceeds 1,000
The number of people living with HIV in Northern Ireland has exceeded 1,000, according to charity Positive Life. A total of 94 new cases were diagnosed last year, new figures have revealed. The majority were men all aged under 50.
24 November 2017
Half Of Most Deprived Areas In NI Are In Belfast
Half of Northern Ireland's most deprived areas are in Belfast, it has been revealed. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) published a report which showed the most relatively deprived area was Strabane East and the least deprived was the Belmont area in east Belfast. The data included splitting NI into 890 areas.