'Inspirational' women helped secure Good Friday Agreement, claims NI Secretary

'Inspirational' women helped secure Good Friday Agreement, claims NI Secretary

THE Northern Ireland Secretary has championed the role women played in securing the Good Friday Agreement and bringing an end to the Troubles period in Northern Ireland.

During a visit to an exhibition marking women’s contribution to peace-building in Northern Ireland, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris claimed: “Women played a pivotal role in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement negotiations and continue to do so today through further peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts throughout communities in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Heaton-Harris visited Herstory’s Peace Heroines exhibition in Derry this month, which showcases women’s pivotal role in the Northern Ireland peace process, as the 25th anniversary of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement approaches.

“The portraits of Northern Ireland’s iconic female peacebuilders are simply inspiring,” he said,” before adding:“The UK Government is unshakable in its commitment to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, and the 25th anniversary marks an extraordinary achievement for Northern Ireland.

“It is important we showcase women’s contribution to the Agreement to inspire the next generation and build on the remarkable progress Northern Ireland has made this past quarter century.”

The touring exhibition, currently at the Tower Museum, features women who have contributed to the peace process in the North and those who continue to be involved in cross-community dialogue and reconciliation projects today.

Herstory CEO and Creative Director Melanie Lynch revealed the inspiration behind the project, explaining: “When I met with Ireland’s former Ambassador to the UN Geraldine Nason-Byrne, she explained to me that the role of women in the Northern Ireland peace process is a key United Nations case study.

“I reached out to our school contacts and they confirmed that this essential story is not taught on the official school curriculum in Northern Ireland or the Republic.

“Our new Peace Heroines project aims to change that and introduce students and the public to these legendary activists and inspire the next generation of peace builders.

She added: “It’s time to write Herstory into history.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy, who was also present during the visit, said: “Women have always had a leading role in Derry’s history, helping to keep families and communities together during dark times.

“They kept local industry going in the factories, supported homes, brought up children and drove social and political change in the most economically and politically turbulent times.

“The Council is delighted to see their contribution to peace recognised in this important exhibition.

“These real heroines were an inspiration to so many young women, who are proud to take up the mantle and continue their work for positive change and peace in our society.”

Touring across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and further afield this year, Peace Heroines is on display at the Tower Museum in Derry until March 24, before it features at the United Nations in New York from March 27.