Today marks a monumental achievement that would have seemed unlikely just a few years ago: the appointment of a representative from an Irish nationalist party as the First Minister of Northern Ireland.
However, even more significantly, today ends once and for all the days of Stormont being a “Protestant Parliament for a Protestant People,” making it a parliament for all members of the community of Northern Ireland. It marks a significant stride towards dismantling the artificial divisions historically exploited for political domination.
Today’s events celebrate the resilience of democracy. They affirm that the majority’s mandate prevails over the fears of a reticent minority clinging to an obsolete past. Despite attempts to delay, the democratic voice of the people has ultimately succeeded.
Today is a day of world significance. Today’s events show that where there is will and courage, peace can triumph even over centuries of violence and oppression; if today’s events can happen in Northern Ireland, they can happen anywhere.
While today is a beacon of hope in a challenging global landscape, it is imperative that the United States does not declare ‘mission accomplished’ prematurely. Instead, the U.S. must continue its historic role in nurturing this beacon of the power of democracy over conflict in Northern Ireland, offering it as a much-needed source of inspiration worldwide.”