7 FEBRUARY, 2000

At this critical moment in the search for peace, I appeal to all concerned, elected representatives and others, to play their full part now in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. This is needed to ensure that the progress already made is sustained for the well-being of the whole community. The high hopes for peace and stability must not be dashed. The great opportunities presented by the work already done must not be lost.

We have seen over the past two months the huge benefit that can come from a power-sharing administration in the hands of local people who have shown that they are capable of tackling our urgent common problems in a new spirit of service of all our people. All this could now be lost. We must not let it be lost.

I appeal to the political parties to continue to work patiently together in the search for a solution to the problems that have arisen. It is important that each of the parties tries to understand the very genuine difficulties faced by those of a different tradition and do all they can to reduce those difficulties.

The prize of peace is still within reach. The desire for that peace on the part of the vast majority of the people is obvious. The fruits of peace would be great – justice and equality for all, security, economic well being, full employment, a better future for all our children. I believe that the resources and the structures and the good-will exist in order to deliver that peace.

The seeds of mutual trust planted in recent months must be given time to bear fruit. The relationships now being built must be allowed to develop. These relationships have the capacity to help us understand and appreciate the pain and the difficulties of other people. Without that ability to understand the hurts and heartbreaks of the other tradition, attempts at reconciliation will remain fruitless.
It is important that all lines of communication be kept open and used.

It would be an immense tragedy if the progress already made were to be impaired. If that were to happen, the only victors would be those who do not want peace. Yesterday’s bomb was a grim warning of where that could lead. We all have a responsibility to do our utmost to ensure that this does not happen.

I ask people to pray that the courage and wisdom required may now be found in order to produce the commitment needed to save the entire process.