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Queen’s University set for 25-year Belfast/Good Friday Anniversary signature event

The focus of the world is set to be on Belfast when global political leaders past and present will arrive in Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (B/GFA) in April.

Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University said: “We are delighted to be hosting this event, bringing together key global figures to share their experiences and expertise in peace building.

“This signature event to mark the anniversary of the Agreement offers the opportunity to reflect upon and recognise the achievements of 25 years ago, which has led to significant progress in Northern Ireland, delivering greater prosperity and a safer and more inclusive society. We also want to look forward to how we address the major issues impacting society today so we can build on the current peace over the next 25 years. We look forward to an insightful event.”

The conference, entitled “Agreement 25: ‘The Dynamics of Peace: Reflections on the Achievements, Legacies and Implications of the 1998 Belfast / Good Friday Agreement,’” will bring together key figures and the remaining lead architects of the B/GFA over three days to both reflect on its achievements and to discuss the challenges and solutions needed to drive forward a peaceful and prosperous future for the region. Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris, MP, said: “This conference provides a great opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 25 years on. Bringing together young people, business leaders and global political leaders past and present, this forum will provide a chance for architects of the Agreement and those benefiting from the Northern Ireland it helped to create to discuss progressing peace and prosperity. I look forward to supporting this event and collaborating with a number of partners as the Northern Ireland Office delivers its own ambitious programme of activity throughout the anniversary year.”

Micheál Martin TD, Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, said: “On 10 April 1998, negotiators in Belfast agreed ‘a truly historic new beginning.’ 25 years on, we are grateful that Queen’s University will host this important conference, to offer a moment of reflection on the peace and on remaining challenges. It brings together people from these islands, and further afield, to consider how we can work together into the future, to fully deliver the potential of the Good Friday Agreement. I look forward to these conversations, in the full spirit of ‘partnership, equality and mutual respect’, which the Agreement highlights."

The conference will have four themes:

  • Celebrating the achievements of those who signed the 1998 Belfast/Good Friday Agreement (B/GFA).
  • Recognising the role of women in peace building.
  • Amplifying the voice of the next generation of young leaders.
  • Creating a dialogue that proposes and considers social and economic solutions to the major issues that will impact the region over the next 25 years.

The three-day conference will be hosted by Queen’s University Belfast in partnership with the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils, Council on Competitiveness, Women in Business, Politics in Action, the Lyric Theatre as well as Hillsborough Castle, where supporting events will also take place, including a programme for schools. Key world figures will be announced in the coming weeks.

On Monday 17 April, a series of reflective panels will be held, focusing on the development of the Agreement and achievements since the agreement was signed in 1998. Key events on Tuesday 18 April will focus on the next 25 years of political and social progress in Northern Ireland. 

Politics in Action, a youth charity that supports young people to articulate their views and hopes on a range of current and political issues, will partner with Queen’s to run a major youth event on Tuesday 18 April.

The University is also partnering with Women in Business, who will host a panel event titled “Women leading Change” on the morning of 18 April, as part of their Voices of Leadership Conference.

On Wednesday 19 April, Queen’s together with the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils will host an economic summit event with two panels focusing on the future economic opportunities of Northern Ireland. 

As part of the programme, the University will also recognise pioneering women who have made a significant civic impact on Northern Ireland over the last 25 years.

Tickets will be available to the public through an online ballot. Registration for the ballot will close on Monday 13 March after which tickets will be allocated at random. 

The event will also be livestreamed on the Queen’s website

Our partners have said:

Laura McCorry, Head of Hillsborough Castle, said: “‘We are delighted to be partnering with Queen’s University Belfast to mark this important anniversary.  Our programme will focus on Hillsborough Castle’s historic place in the politics of Northern Ireland as a place that inspires worlds and minds to meet.  Diplomatic credentials are no longer required to gain access to this fascinating place of political history and we’re looking forward to welcoming people from across the island of Ireland to our public events in April.”

Roseann Kelly, CEO Women in Business, said, “Northern Ireland is filled with incredible women who were and are instrumental in bringing change to many different sectors of our economy. Stories of resilience and leadership that are emblematic of women’s contribution to our society and which serve as role models for the leaders of today. It is an honour for me and Women in Business to bring together a diverse range of leading female voices to celebrate these catalysts of change and ultimately inspire and empower the next generation of female leaders.”

Paul Smyth, Executive Director at Politics in Action, said: “Politics in Action is delighted to be part of this historic event, and are looking forward to bringing over 200 young people from across Northern Ireland and from different parts of our education system to present their ideas about what peace means to them.”

The Hon. Deborah L. Wince-Smith, President & CEO of the Council on Competitiveness and Founder & President of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils, said: “The U.S. Council on Competitiveness has been honoured to partner over the past quarter century with leaders across Northern Ireland and Ireland to make the case that an economic agenda focused on innovation-driven growth can deliver inclusive prosperity, complementing the historic efforts undertaken to resolve conflict and deliver peace. As the world turns it gaze on Queen’s University and commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, let us take stock of lessons learned, and look to Belfast for future guidance in an era of turbulence and transformation.”


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