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United Kingdom and Ireland need to protect Good Friday agreement — George Mitchell

Former NI deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon

There can't be agreement on those issues unless we somehow agree on what goal Northern Ireland actually now serves.

The people speaking are those who lived through the conflict and those who have known more peaceful times, from both sides of the border.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister said: "I am absolutely delighted to be here tonight, marking such an important milestone in our history and recognising the very significant contribution made by President Clinton and senator Mitchell in peacebuilding".

It's 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, - bringing power-sharing and much peace to Northern Ireland.

The historic Agreement signed by the leaders of the United Kingdom and Ireland on 10 April 1998 established a consensus for peace and the future direction of the region after political conflict had been raging for thirty years. Such an approach was used in negotiations in South Africa, Bosnia and after the Northern Ireland peace process, in Sudan and Colombia and is now framing the UK's Brexit process.

"I am deeply sorry that my informal remarks in a meeting last month have led to misunderstanding on that point - in particular, that my use of the word "shibboleth" in its sense of "pass word" or "test of membership" gave the impression that I thought the Good Friday Agreement was in any way outdated or unimportant".

Labour former shadow Northern Ireland secretary Owen Smith said the remarks were "reckless".

Prof James McElnay, the university's acting vice-chancellor, said: "His role and influence on the peace process in Northern Ireland was pivotal to ensuring all parties reached agreement in April 1998".

"Politics has been debased and diminished by these two political silos which have nearly Balkanised the Northern Ireland that I live in".

In a statement, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, commend the Agreement which they said "sought to address contentious political problems in the context of decades of violence, divided communities and enormous suffering and death on our streets". Allied to this are dysfunctional political institutions which have failed to deliver any meaningful improvement in the quality of life for the people they supposedly serve.

Mr Clinton told the audience he had fallen in love with the city of Belfast in the 23 years since his first visit.

The men became the 83rd and 84th recipients of the Freedom of the City of Belfast.