“The year ahead holds uncertainty but also an assurance of better times if the right decisions are taken both for the short as well as the longer term.
While there was a huge fanfare of publicity last year regarding the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement we now enter the 30th anniversary of a much more significant year, 1994 was the first occasion when the Provisional IRA and then the loyalist paramilitaries decided to stop their murder campaigns. There had been previous ceasefires but that was the first time both the IRA and the responding loyalist paramilitaries called a halt. This was a complete vindication of those of us who had said for years that the campaigns against Police checkpoints, Army installations and all the other responses to IRA terror would cease if the IRA stopped their murderous activities. It was a most obvious case of cause and effect that many of us could imagine. This is not an occasion to celebrate that 30th anniversary as the violence had no basis starting in the first instance, but it is however right to mark and acknowledge the much more accurate sequence of events than the hyper ventilation that occurred last year over something that was inevitable (political agreement) once the IRA had finally realised they had run out of 'murder road'.
Having come a long and arduous journey since then the key now is establishing a more stable basis for devolution, ensuring that those who, such as SF, keep repeating the mantra that their 'day has come' will find out that it will go, not long after it has come. The whole basis of the way politics works has changed, we now must proceed on the basis of cross community consensus. We respect their right to campaign peacefully for a United Ireland and in return they must respect our determination that we will never agree to it. Let all of us get on with making Northern Ireland work for all of it's citizens both for 2024 and into the future.”