TODAY marks 100 years since the partition of Ireland which created Northern Ireland.
A border was placed along the island of Ireland when the Government of Ireland Act came into effect on May 3, 1921.
The controversial centenary of that event – celebrated by unionists but a source of great anguish for many republicans - has today prompted the Queen to issue a message “to the people of Northern Ireland”.
In it she praised their efforts to preserve peace within the embattled state, claiming “the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests”.
“A century ago, the Government of Ireland Act came into effect, and today marks a significant centenary for both the United Kingdom and Ireland,” she said.
“This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity.”
She added: “In Northern Ireland today, there is, perhaps more than ever, a rich mix of identities, backgrounds and aspirations, and an outward-looking and optimistic mindset.
“The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division.
"But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.”
The Queen has sent a message to the people of Northern Ireland on the centenary of the Government of Ireland Act coming into effect. pic.twitter.com/vMRmcxcR9K
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) May 3, 2021
In a nod to the future, and the work that remains to be done to maintain the progress of the peace process, and the commitments of the Good Friday Agreement, signed in April 1998, she admits “it is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment”.
The British head of state adds: “During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions.
“I also wish to recognise the important contribution made by our friends and closest neighbours towards the success of Northern Ireland.
“I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, ten years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand.
“Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.
“I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland."