8 Aug 2011, 15.31
The Co-Chairman of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Joe McHugh TD, has paid tribute to the former Finnish Prime Minister, Harri Holkeri, who co-chaired the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, who passed away last night.
Deputy McHugh said that Mr Holkerri, along with Senator George Mitchell and their colleagues, played an important role in the peace process at an extremely important period and that they made a major contribution to the general peace that we are enjoying at this time.
Deputy McHugh commented, “Harri Holkeri played a crucial role in chairing the extremely difficult and often tense negotiations between unionists, nationalists, republicans, and the British and Irish governments that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
“While his role in these negotiations was not as celebrated or public as that of Senator Mitchell, I know that his contribution was appreciated by many of those who participated in these talks.
“At that time, relationships between all parties to the negotiations were not as friendly or constructive as they are today. We must be thankful to individuals such as Mr Holkerri for the significant progress that has been made in British Irish relationships as so positively demonstrated during the successful visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland earlier this year.
“We all owe Mr Holkerri a tremendous debt of gratitude for his work in Ireland and I would like to extend the sympathies of all the members of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly to his wife and family.”
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*The British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (formerly the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body) was established in 1990 as a link between members of the Houses of Parliament and the Houses of the Oireachtas. In recent years, membership has been expanded to include representatives of the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the High Court of Tynwald (Isle of Man) and the States of Guernsey and Jersey. Two plenary sessions, attended by 68 members and associates, are held every year alternately in Britain and Ireland with ongoing work by four Committees.
The Assembly is co-chaired by Joe McHugh TD and Lord Cope of Berkeley.