Tuesday, 21 September 2021
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
I thank the Minister of State for his comprehensive response. It is certainly something that I will send to the relevant people this afternoon. I wish to thank the Cathaoirleach for his support, and that of the Irish parliamentarians who went to Belfast. It was a very significant meeting. As the Minister of State will be aware through his many years of experience in politics, it is unheard of for there to be all-island, cross-party and none political unity on reaching a resolution.
When I left Belfast, having listened to and engaged with the people, my abiding thoughts were that I could have nothing but the height of respect for their patience, grace and determination to seek the truth. There were many tears shed in Belfast City Hall that day and many stories told on all sides of the fence and all sides of the Troubles.There were many heartaches, many sorrows and many stories of loss, hurt and disappointment. We must stand in solidarity with the people on all sides of this island and the islands we share. I know we will. I will take this opportunity to say that, since we met, Pat Hume, the wife of former SDLP leader, John Hume, sadly passed away. That was on 2 September, only two days later. She was an incredible person who was influential in many aspects of the peace process. I pay tribute to Pat for her commitment, courage and compassion in the service of peace and reconciliation for the island of Ireland.