This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in N Ireland/Ireland, which was been celebrated by the visitations and addresses by current and former Presidents of the United States of America, current and former Prime Ministers of the UK, current and former Taoisigh of the Republic of Ireland and the President of the European Commission.
Notwithstanding the important events that have taken place earlier this year, it is important to remember that democracy, reconciliation and peacebuilding is an ongoing daily process and not an one off event. In that respect I hope that peace efforts here in N Ireland will continue to bear fruit which will reflect unity in diversity in all aspects of our lives, and in our institutions of government, which I hope can be restored shortly.
As we mark this important anniversary on the island of Ireland, there has never been a greater need across the world for people to work for democracy and reconciliation and to continuously participate in peacebuilding. We have witnessed ongoing terror and violence in Ukraine and a war waged against innocent people and democratic political institutions. Only lately, we have seen the horrors of terrorism and violence in Sudan and Yemen. All the violence perpetrated against communities and people is underlining the compelling imperative and importance of the ongoing process of democracy and peacebuilding.
Centre for Democracy and Peace Building continues to be involved in important work in supporting current and future leaders. Our work encompasses the important Fellowship programme, which is aimed at political, business and civic leaders in Northern Ireland who were and will continue to be involved in paving a new, prosperous future for our region. This flagship programme is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin, Allstate NI, Devenish, FinTrU, Fujitsu NI, Ulster Carpets, the Irish American Partnership and our new partner Norther Ireland Electricity Networks.
Other important work includes the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement Course, Leadership in Arts and Culture, Re-thinking Leadership series, collaborative work with the UME Oleander Initiative programmes in Japan and the partnership with the John Smith Trust.
All this work is carried out under the strategic direction of our Board – of which I am proud to be Chair along with my director colleagues, and the dynamic work of Eva Grosman who is our Chief Executive. Eva is a powerhouse and has provided dynamic leadership in these islands in terms of peacebuilding and democracy.
We and the wider community owe Eva an enormous debt of gratitude and heartfelt thanks. I hope to continue to work with Eva, her team and our directors to ensure that the objectives of the organisation can continue to be fulfilled – particularly as we move on from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to many business leaders and academics who have supported our mission and peacebuilding work over several years. Such combined efforts are vitally important in working towards fulfilling our commitments to democracy and peacebuilding locally and internationally.
Baroness Margaret Ritchie of Downpatrick