19 April 2023

Rishi Sunak to deliver closing address to Good Friday Agreement conference

19 April 2023

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to deliver the closing address to a major three-day conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

The event at Queen’s University Belfast has seen political leaders fly in from across the world, including former US president Bill Clinton, ex-prime minister Tony Blair, former Irish premier Bertie Ahern and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic.

The final day will see Mr Sunak vow to “give everything” to deliver the vision of sustained economic growth and tackle the problems of a divided society in Northern Ireland.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will also address the conference on Wednesday.

Mr Sunak is to be joined by two of his recent predecessors – Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – at a gala dinner later, attended by political leaders, international dignitaries and leading charities.

While celebrating the achievement of the 1998 accord, the conference has also seen words of encouragement to restore the Stormont Assembly, which has been collapsed for the last year amid a DUP boycott over the Brexit protocol.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris claimed a restoration of the Stormont institutions was the surest way to secure the region’s place in the UK, and said  “real leadership” was about having the courage to say “yes”.

At a separate event in Londonderry on Tuesday evening, Mr Clinton insisted it would be “fairly easy” to resurrect Stormont if it was wanted, but cautioned that “an excuse can always be found to say no”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party will not be “browbeaten into submission”, and insisted unionist concerns around the protocol must be addressed.

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