I thank Deputy Barrett for his encouragement. As a former Minister for Defence, he is correct that the way in which members of the Defence Forces have conducted themselves in difficult and intractable conflicts in many parts of the world has done a huge amount for the image of the country.
We have experience of building and sustaining a peace process. At the time, many people considered the conflict here to be unsolvable, yet we did it. In very complicated circumstances against the backdrop of violence in the 1990s, people changed and took a different path. Through the encouragement of political leaders of all persuasions on this part of the island, experience has been built up, whether in the period of John Bruton's leadership of the country when he was Taoiseach in the mid-1990s or during Bertie Ahern's leadership of the country as the Taoiseach in office when the Belfast Agreement was signed. There is a bank of talent available to us at leadership level. We see the former Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, in his role at European Union level and we have seen him in his former role in Colombia. All of this serves to illustrate that there is a role for the country and former leaders in this part of the island to bring to bear the experience they acquired in what were politically difficult and testing times. Many of them took risks in encouraging the peace process. Deputy Barrett is right to identify that in a world that is not becoming more secure or peaceful, there is something to be said for offering our experience as a small island in a passive way.
In that sense, I would revert to Deputy O'Sullivan's point. It is important that we secure a seat on the Security Council and bring the kind of experiences and values that we have to the world. They are described in many ways as soft power values. They are not muscular values that go into an area in a dictatorial sense. They are based on facilitating dialogue and discussion over longer and more sustained periods during which trust is built between parties that have either been in conflict or continue to distrust one another. In many cases, poor development and poverty in regions around the world are a consequence of conflict. The destruction that conflict wreaks in various parts of the world has real impacts on ordinary people's lives. Through a seat on the Security Council or a place like Glencree, Ireland can illustrate that, through long periods of sustained dialogue, one can see the development of trust and the breaking down of enmity between once violent traditions.
Deputy O'Sullivan also referred to the legacy of the past. This is perhaps one of the most difficult issues with which we have had to grapple. If we never had Brexit, this issue might be the most dominant facing us in the context of our peace process and the relationships that we have been attempting to cement and sustain over the past number of years. We acknowledge the role that the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, played as the then Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade during the creation of the Stormont House architecture when we believed we had something that was going to provide a basis for getting people into processes where, even if they did not get justice in all cases, they could as a minimum get the answers they had been seeking for decades. We remain hopeful that the Stormont House architecture can be activated and that agreements between the governments and political parties can see the activation of those processes. As the Chairman pointed out, people are getting older and time is running out for many of them to get the answers they have been seeking.
Regarding the initial point that was made, one of the successes of the centre has been the ability to attract down to our walls or our building very fearful communities and people, people who would be nothing short of terrified at the idea of coming south for repeated dialogues. Engaging in these conversations represented a major fear on their part, given their particular constituencies or communities. Unfortunately, we have to keep these conversations confidential. In many cases, successes are not available to be heralded by virtue of the fact that we are dealing with fearful communities. As we look forward from today and see the results of last week's British general election, nothing is brought into starker relief than the changing nature of all of the relationships across the two islands, be they between Scotland and the UK, us and the UK, us and Northern Ireland or so on. We will require an ever more focused, sensitive and careful conversation around what relationships are going to look like over the next number of years. Nothing brings that issue into sharper relief than the results of last week's election in Northern Ireland. We will require conversations that are inclusive and continue to manage the concerns, hopes and aspirations of the two communities based on the fundamental principle of the agreement, that being, parity of esteem.
Both communities are equal, the aspirations of both are equal, and both cultures and traditions are equal. This will require careful management in terms of how one gives the concept of parity of esteem practical application. That is important. In the years since the Brexit referendum, and recognising as we did what a profound impact it would have, we have continued to believe that these conversations are as vital as any public debate. While public debate is important, it is in quiet and carefully managed environments where people can relax and move into a sense of ease around their concerns about what the future might look like. In that sense, those conversations will continue. They will not necessarily get publicity, because they cannot, but it is important that they continue, given the challenges that we will face following Brexit and the ongoing shifts and trends emerging from last week's elections.