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  • Writer's pictureGreg O'Loughlin

History, challenge, and opportunity

1916, 1998, & 2023

A Letter from Ireland

a Chara,

This week Gerry Adam, President Bill Clinton, Representative Richard Neal, and a host of Irish American organizations marked the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement at an event in New York.

Sunday will mark the Anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1916 when Patrick Pearse read the proclamation of the Irish Republic at the door of the GPO. It remains the vision of an Ireland that generations have struggled to make real. The cost has been great. At Easter, Irish Republicans wear a lily to remember our patriot dead.

Much has changed since 1916 and since 1998. We live in the Ireland of 2023.

Progress is measured by how far we have come and by how far we have yet to travel.

This week, past and future converged in the Great Hall at Coopers Union, New York City.

The event in New York was not a lap of honor. It was an inflection point — a point where opportunity and challenge meet.

In a video message, Senator George Mitchell reminded us that the seeds of further challenges are found in the solution of old problems. Every action has an effect, some known, some unknown.

The Good Friday Agreement changed Ireland, North and South. A generation has grown up in peace and is hungry to define their future.

President Clinton spoke of how the Agreement was only made possible by leaders in all parties and both governments taking risks for peace. Offering that peace building was not a one-off event. It is a long road.

The Agreement was never a settlement. It was, and remains, the framework for resolving political differences. It places constitutional arrangements in the hands of the people. It safeguards the rights of citizens, places democracy and peace at the core of political progress, and asserts the primacy of politics over conflict. That is the real genius of the agreement. It is a dynamic set of principles that apply to a changing society.

Speaking in New York, Gerry Adams reminded us that the Good Friday Agreement provided for a peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish Unity and the Irish Republic. An option that was never available to all those who came before.

The challenge for this generation, for our generation, is to realize the opportunity to build a new and United Ireland.

This Easter, we remember the generations of Irish Patriots who gave their lives for Irish Freedom, and we recognize that the journey is not over.

Unlike previous generations, we have a peaceful and democratic path to travel. For that we are thankful.

Have a great weekend, and try to attend one of the many Easter commemorations happening across the country. More information here.

Is mise,


Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Féin Representative to North America. Each week he writes a letter from Ireland with news and analysis. It is featured in the weekly Friends of Sinn Féin USA Newsletter. Be sure you are subscribed to stay up to date.

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