Mac Lochlainn: ‘The first half of my life had witnessed nothing but conflict’ until GFA was agreed
and live on Freeview channel 276
The Sinn Féin TD stated: “The GFA was a momentous achievement, not only by political leaders on the island of Ireland but also facilitated by political leaders in the United States, the European Union and others internationally.
"I am almost 50 now. It was half my life ago. The first half of my life had witnessed nothing but conflict. I saw it in my family first hand, in my community and across the Border in the nearest city, Derry.”
The Buncrana representative was speaking during a debate on the GFA in the Dáil on Thursday.
He said: “The agreement was of huge importance but it must be nurtured. That is why there has been a range of agreements since the GFA to try to embolden it.
"We had the Weston Park Agreement in 2001, the St. Andrews Agreement in 2006, the Hillsborough Agreement in 2010, the Stormont House Agreement in 2014, the Fresh Start agreement in 2015 and the most recent agreement, New Decade, New Approach, in 2020. We can see that the agreement needs consistent nurturing and challenging.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn strongly criticised the ruling British Conservative Party.
“In recent times, the role of the Conservative Party Government in Britain has been of huge concern. It clearly built a relationship with the Democratic Unionist Party, DUP, which I believe led to the collapse of the institutions.
"It has engaged in utterly reckless political behaviour for its own selfish interests. It dispensed with the DUP when it suited, but we are all still dealing with the mess,” he said.
During the debate Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Peter Burke, spoke of the role played by the late John Hume in delivering the peace agreement.
"There are many people alive today because Hume and Trimble, Ahern and Blair, and many others, came together for peace,” he said.
The Minister spoke of how, for John Hume, delivering economic progress for citizens has always been a part of his philosophy.
“John Hume was a teacher first, at St. Columb's College in Derry. Before he was ever elected to any parliament, John was the president of the Irish League of Credit Unions at 27, having established the first ever credit union in NI at only 23.
"I have seen the excellent work done by credit unions in my own constituency. I know that the credit union movement has improved the lives of many. For John, it was a way of ensuring that hardworking people had access to the credit they needed to build better futures for their families,” said Deputy Burke.
He said John Hume had aimed to break ‘the old cycles of violence and patterns of mistrust’.
"John Hume often reminded us, ‘you can't eat a flag; real politics is about the living standards, about social and economic development.’
"Politics is about real people, issues affecting local communities and making lives better. When politicians are grounded in their communities and are motivated by a conviction that it is their duty to make the lives of their citizens better, they can take difficult decisions.”