Northern Ireland news

Good Friday Agreement committee to hear from John Major as ex-PM's 'diplomacy' talent praised

John Major and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds pictured at a press conference in 1993 ahead of the Downing Street Declaration. Picture: AP Photo/Dave Caulkin
Paul Ainsworth

THE work of former British prime minister John Major in building peace in the north is to be discussed when he appears before the Republic's joint committee on implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Major, who was PM in the early stages of the peace process, will speak to the Oireachtas committee via video call on Thursday as part of its ongoing meetings with architects of the Belfast Agreement, the 25th anniversary of which is being marked this April.

Others to have spoken at the Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement include ex-Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and John Bruton, former US Senator George Mitchell, and former SDLP leader Mark Durkan.

Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Fergus O’Dowd said Mr Major's "talent for peace and diplomatic negotiation" was evident in reaching agreement on the 1993 Downing Street Declaration, which he issued alongside then-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds.

The declaration outlined the principle of consent for Irish self-determination, north and south, that became a keystone of the 1998 Agreement.

Mr O'Dowd said Mr Major's diplomacy "ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement".

 

"The Downing Street Declaration has been described as a 'finely balanced double helix in which self-determination and consent were inseparable' and these concepts became central to the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

 

"We look forward to discussing Sir John’s Major’s contribution to the peace process, his work with former taoiseach Albert Reynolds, the implementation of the Agreement and the lessons from his time in Northern Ireland that can be applied to the current impasse today."