MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
2 December 1999
Northern Ireland: The Way Forward
I welcome the important breakthrough in the peace process represented by the establishment of a new provincial government for Northern Ireland.
The devolution of power to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the establishment of a provincial cabinet are critical steps toward lasting peace in Northern Ireland.
For the first time in twenty-five years, the people of Northern Ireland have the opportunity to establish an environment of security, and the political institutions needed to shape their futures in a peaceful way.
The Australian Government congratulates all parties for their patience and perseverance in rising above the sectarian divisions which have characterised too much of Northern Ireland's history. In particular, I note the historic decision taken by the Ulster Unionist Party, reflecting David Trimble's leadership and commitment.
We urge all of the parties in Northern Ireland to take the final steps to secure lasting peace, including proceeding with decomissioning of arms as soon as possible.
I would also like to acknowledge former US Senator George Mitchell's role in ensuring the peace process continued to move forward.
The Australian Government has long been an active supporter of the peace process One of the ways in which it has demonstrated that support is through contributions to the International Fund for Ireland ($7 million since 1995).
The Fund was set up to promote economic and social advancement and encourage reconciliation between nationalists and unionists in the areas worst affected by the violence of recent years.
Ministerial - Mark Croxford (02) 6277 7500
Departmental - Matt Francis (02) 6261 1555
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