Ursula von der Leyen has spoken about former DUP leader Ian Paisley and his journey from opposing the Good Friday Agreement to sharing power with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness less than 10 years later

The European Commission president was addressing a major conference on the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement at Queen’s University in Belfast.
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“The journey of Ian Paisley mirrors the journey of thousands of people on this island,” she said.

“History now calls on today’s leaders to embark on a similar path and to shape together the future of Northern Ireland.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, the future of Northern Ireland belongs to its people. Only you can make the seed of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement continue to grow and to flourish. Only you can take the next step on the path of prosperity and possibility.

“I can reassure you that we, the European Union, will continue to do to our part and to accompany you on the path of peace and prosperity.

“Today, my grandchildren are toddlers. What Northern Ireland and the whole island of Ireland will look like when they are in their 20s depends on all of us. But the ultimate choice lies with you, the people of Northern Ireland, to shape your history and that of the next generation.

“The gateway to a bright future is open, all you need to do is walk through it.”

Windsor Framework

Left to right: President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, sit together during the international conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University BelfastLeft to right: President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, sit together during the international conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University Belfast
Left to right: President of the European Council Charles Michel, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, sit together during the international conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, at Queen's University Belfast
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European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the Windsor Framework on post-Brexit trade was a “new beginning for old friends”.

She highlighted Northern Ireland’s “unique” opportunity to attract investment under the trading arrangements agreed between the EU and UK

“The Windsor Framework is a new beginning for old friends, it turns the page on years of division and dispute,” she said.

“It is an opportunity to set our sights on the future of our partnership and to focus on what brings us together.

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“More investors are now eyeing Northern Ireland, this is a unique opportunity for Northern Ireland. There is so much we can do together with wisdom and vision.

“The same wisdom and vision that the leaders of Northern Ireland have already shown over the past 25 years.”