I made a brief address along the following lines.
"Peace has to be fought for in every generation. As Christopher Hitchens said, the enlightenment principles have to be promoted and defended time after time. We are the post-conflict generation. We are the poeple of Northern Ireland who have liberated ourselves from the Cold War mentality of green versus orange. We are like Rosa Luxembourg, internationalists whose loyalties lie beyond the nation state.
Our leaders are failing. As Trevor Ringland said, we need to become more demanding of our leaders.
We want to mark the 16th anniversary of the GFA and every year thereafter. Look at Hannah Nelson. She is so representative of the post-conflict generation. She was wheeled out for Obama and then binned, and the extremists were wheeled back in. The United Community document was rushed out for Obama and then shelved. Now we have the Haass failure.
Tony Novosel said post-conflict societies can slip back into violence. The precedence is there also that socities can maintain the peace. Just as Americans fought for the removal of the Jim crow laws, so we need to fight for change. The urge to censor and shut out unwelcome or unpleasant opinions will always exist. Freedom of speech has to be refought for in every generation.
W.B. Yeats wrote: 'The centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world/ The worst are full of riotous passions, the best lack all conviction.' We the best need to fight for our peace, stability and prosperity."More images from the day below: