Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement completes tour of Northern Ireland

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The original UK copy of the Belfast ( Good Friday) Agreement. Photo credit: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).

The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement has concluded its 800 mile tour across Northern Ireland from London to mark the 25th anniversary of its signing, the first time the original UK copy of the Agreement has returned to the region since its signing on 10 April 1998.

Provided on loan from The National Archives in London to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary of the peace deal, the document made its first public appearance in Northern Ireland in a quarter of a century in April.

Since April, the document has gone on display at Queen’s University Belfast, Hillsborough Castle, Strule Arts Centre in Omagh, Enniskillen Castle Museums, Omagh Library, Belfast Central Library, Linenhall Library, the Game of Thrones Studio Tour in Banbridge, Derry Central Library, Craigavon Civic Centre and Bangor City Hall.

The document will go on display at Hillsborough Castle from June until September.

The original UK Government’s signed copy of the Agreement features the signatures of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the late Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs David Andrews.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, said:

“It is fantastic that the original Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement has returned to Northern Ireland for the first time since its historic signing 25 years ago, and that the public has had the opportunity to see the document across various locations in Northern Ireland.

“The Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement was an incredible achievement, helping to lay the foundation of a more prosperous Northern Ireland that we see today. It’s important that current and future generations are aware of its significance in helping to create a more peaceful society in Northern Ireland.”

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) Acting Director, David Huddleston, said:

“We have been pleased to host the display of the original Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement at PRONI at venues across Northern Ireland, as part of our ongoing commitment to provide community access to public records.

“The opportunity to view the document up close and reflect on its historic significance has been taken up by many people, of different ages and backgrounds. The roadshow forms part of PRONI’s centenary programme of activities bringing archives to local audiences.”

Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, Jeff James, said:

“The National Archives is an essential resource for our democracy, a public good and an asset for future generations. Our conviction is that archives are for everyone, including all communities who call Northern Ireland home. We were therefore delighted to work with the Northern Ireland Office and PRONI to facilitate the tour of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“Projects such as these demonstrate the power of archives in changing lives for the better, as they promote reconciliation, understanding and enhanced dialogue between individuals. The tour ensured this important document was seen by the communities where it has had the greatest impact – helping young people understand the past, and those affected heal from its wounds.”

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