Events to mark the Good Friday Agreement Anniversary
A variety of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will take place during 2023.
These events will happen on the island of Ireland, as well as around the world through initiatives of Ireland’s global network of embassies and consulates.
A sample of the events that have taken place are outlined here. More events are planned in the coming weeks and months, recognising this historic anniversary.
Now the sun breaks through
The British-Irish Council (BIC) was established as part of the Good Friday Agreement to promote positive, practical relationships among its members, and provide a forum for consultation and cooperation.
A poetry anthology, ‘now the sun breaks through’, has been commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It also marks the linked 25th anniversary of the inaugural British-Irish Council Summit (December 2024).
The British-Irish Council has collaborated with the Scottish Poetry Library to develop the poetry anthology, themed around the natural environment.
The poems are composed by poets in the BIC’s nine indigenous, minority and lesser-used languages, and interpreted and adapted into English. Within the collection, readers are introduced to these languages, and their rhythms and expressions.
On Sunday 2 April, the Government held a cultural event, in partnership with the Abbey Theatre, to mark 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Sharing Peace, Sharing Futures celebrated a diverse set of voices and perspectives on this island.
Events from around the world
On Thursday, 30 June, the Consulate General in San Francisco, in coordination with the British Consulate, organised an event commemorating the 25 anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The event was also supported by the California Legislative Irish Caucus, as well as Tourism Ireland, Queens University Belfast, the United Irish Cultural Centre and Invest Northern Ireland.
Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason joined United States House of Representatives Speaker Emerita, Nancy Pelosi. They addressed an audience of over 350 attendees from the Irish community, business, academia and public representatives. This was followed by an expert panel discussing peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
The Embassy of Ireland in Finland, together with CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, the British Embassy Helsinki and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, organised a seminar to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement on 2 June 2023.
Experts in peacebuilding from Finland and Northern Ireland shared their experiences and discussed the present and future for Northern Ireland.
They reflected on and highlighted the contribution of Finnish peacemakers to the Northern Ireland peace process. These included former Prime Minister Harri Holkeri and former President Martti Ahtisaari.
Former President of Finland, Tarja Halonen gave the keynote address. Brigadier General Tauno Nieminen, of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning provided his reflections on his time in Belfast.
The audience heard from Bronagh Hinds, Professor Peter Shirlow, and Tara-Grace Connolly. They provided a rounded view of Northern Ireland past, present and future.
Dr. Gail McConnell delivered a powerful poetic reflection drawing on the work of Tove Jansson, in complement to her own published work, expressing her personal story of loss during the Troubles.
Peacebuilders and leaders marked 25 Years of the Good Friday Agreement, and paid tribute to the contribution of President Jimmy Carter to peace in Northern Ireland, at an event on 4 May organised by the Consulate General of Ireland in Atlanta, in partnership with The Carter Centre.
Consul General, Caoimhe Ní Chonchúir welcomed the gathered audience of over 100 attendees in her opening remarks.
The event featured a panel discussion with contributions from:
- Bronagh Hinds, participant in the Good Friday talks and founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition.
- Jarlath Kearney, former Sinn Féin adviser now Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner.
- Mike Nesbitt, prominent parliamentarian in Northern Ireland, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 2012 – 2017.
- Emma Johnston, advocate for youth participation, particularly young women’s participation in peace building, Youth Action Northern Ireland.
The discussion was moderated by former US Ambassador Barbara J. Stephenson, who served as the American Consul General in Belfast, where she worked on the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Additionally, Jason Carter and Paige Alexander, chairman and CEO, respectively, of the Carter Center, shared their reflections on the role of President Jimmy Carter, who in 1977 issued the first formal statement by a US president on Northern Ireland. His ground-breaking initiative established the precedent for the pivotal role played by succeeding US administrations in securing the peace.
Ambassador Mitchell Reiss also spoke to his experience from his time served as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, between 2003 and 2007. He spoke to the importance of policing reform which played a key role in the goal of bringing about sustained peace in Northern Ireland. Ambassador Reiss is one of the four members of the Independent Reporting Commission.
Photo credit: Janan Bradley
On 28-29 April, the Irish Studies Program at Boston College, supported by the Consulate General of Ireland, Boston, the Northern Ireland Bureau, and Boston College Journalism, hosted a symposium focusing on Northern Ireland women’s writing to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The symposium explored the impact of the Good Friday Agreement through the lens of investigative journalism and literature written by women.
The conference featured talks from journalists, Susan McKay and Freya McClements on the Good Friday Agreement and how Northern Ireland has changed in the intervening period since the agreement’s inception.
There was also a screening of the documentary Lyra, a film exploring the life and legacy of investigative journalist, Lyra McKee; Lyra’s partner, Sara Canning, also partook in a post-screening discussion. Additionally, Louise Kennedy, author of the award-winning 2022 novel, Trespasses, delivered a reading from her acclaimed novel and Kennedy participated as well in a conversation with Susan McKay exploring the novel’s origins and central themes.
A St. Patrick’s Day Gala Concert took place in Washington D.C., at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
This evening of culture and song recognised the historic agreement, and honoured the unique contribution of the United States of America to peace in Ireland.
Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, was delighted to participate in the ‘Washington Summit on the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement: Assessing the Progress, Contextualizing the Present, Envisioning the Future' conference, hosted by American University, Georgetown University and Ulster University, which took place on 21 March in Washington DC.
Supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, alongside the Northern Ireland Office and the Northern Ireland Bureau, the conference was an important opportunity to reflect on the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, appraising the progress towards peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and considering the path forward.
The summit can be watched back on the Georgetown University website
Minister of State for European Affairs, Peter Burke TD, together with UK Minister for Europe, Leo Docherty MP, jointly opened a conference on 27 March marking the Good Friday Agreement Anniversary.
Entitled ‘25 Years on – Global and Local Reflections on the Good Friday Agreement’, the conference was organised the Embassy of Ireland in London and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, supported by the Northern Ireland Office.
The conference explored the transformation of relationships across these islands made possible by the Good Friday Agreement.
It celebrated the work of those who made the Agreement possible, highlighted the support of international partners and looked ahead to the next phase of building peace.
On 13 March, Micheál Martin TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave a keynote address at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) conference on:
‘Looking back and moving forward: celebrating 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement’
The conference was supported by the Consulate General of Ireland, New York and featured a variety of voices involved in the peace process, including former Senator George Mitchell, and contemporary actors from the island of Ireland, North and South.
On 4 April, the Consulate of Ireland, New York, in partnership with the NI Bureau and The John and Pat Hume Foundation, were pleased to present a screening of the award-winning film ‘Lyra’, about the acclaimed Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee, at the Irish Arts Center.
The screening was followed by a discussion with the team behind the film including John and Pat Hume Foundation board member and Lyra’s partner, Sara Canning, director Alison Millar and producer Jackie Doyle.
On 10 March, Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD, participated in a ‘fireside chat’ on the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland, Chicago.
Minister McGrath reflected on the historic nature of the Agreement, as well as the importance of US bi-partisan support for peace in Northern Ireland.
Watch back on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs website.
On 16 March, Minister of State Thomas Byrne participated in a seminar organised by the Consulate General of Ireland, Austin, delivering remarks on the upcoming anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
The event featured Belfast-based Big Telly Productions, who gave a presentation on ‘Peace-Making and the Arts’. With the support of the Consulate, Big Telly Productions brought their virtual reality art installation ‘The House’ to exhibit at the University of Texas, Austin and the San Antonio Peace Center at Northwest Vista College.
This project, developed with the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland, explores the legacy of the Troubles and the intergenerational impact of politically motivated violence.
Permanent Mission of Ireland to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
In partnership with the UK permanent mission, the mission of Ireland to the OSCE organised a screening of ‘Wave Goodbye to the Dinosaurs’ on 23 March.
This is a film telling the story of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition from their beginnings as a movement, to their later participation in the multi-party talks that ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement.
The Consulate General of Ireland, Toronto hosted a gala film screening of ‘Young Plato’, in partnership with the Hot Docs Ted Rogers cinema, on 7 April. The event featured a panel discussion with the team behind the documentary including director, Neasa Ní Chianáin, producer, David Rane and headmaster of Holy Cross Ardoyne, Kevin McArevey.
A wide array of invited guests and members of the public also heard from Consul General Janice McGann on the continued importance of the Good Friday Agreement in creating a peaceful and reconciled Northern Ireland.
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