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Northern Ireland centenary seen as opportunity to reflect on togetherness, diversity: UK Queen

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II

London, UK |  XINHUA |  Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II said Monday that the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland provided “an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity”.

In a message to mark the 100th year since the founding of Northern Ireland, she called it “a significant centenary for both the United Kingdom and Ireland”.

“This anniversary reminds us of our complex history,” she said, adding that the continued peace in Northern Ireland is a credit to its people.

Northern Ireland was founded on May 3, 1921 when legislation was enacted, which created a border in Ireland for the first time, and led to its partition.

The peace process in Northern Ireland was “rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division,” she said.

“Above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests,” she said.

“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,” she said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnston called the centenary a “very significant national anniversary”.

But he said it was important to reflect on Northern Ireland’s “complex history”.

“People from all parts of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and across the globe will approach this anniversary in different ways with differing perspectives,” he said.

“While this is a moment of shared reflection, it is also an important opportunity to come together to celebrate Northern Ireland and build towards a better and even brighter future for all its people,” he added.

Official events to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland will include a special post mark and a plan to plant a tree at every school, according to the BBC.

Adding to the complication of the situation in the region, Arlene Foster announced last week that she will step down as the leader of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Northern Ireland’s first minister.

Foster said she would step down as DUP leader on May 28 and as first minister at the end of June, according to the BBC.

The latest development follows calls within the party for a leadership contest amid concerns over the leadership’s handling of the Northern Ireland Protocol and other issues, according to Sky News.

Nearly 90 police officers were hurt in sporadic riots which started in loyalist areas and spread to interface flashpoints last month in Northern Ireland, according to the BBC.

The rioting was attributed in part to anger over the Irish Sea border, which is a new trade border between Northern Ireland and other parts of Britain as a result of Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Unionist parties and many loyalist communities object to the protocol as they believe it undermines Northern Ireland’s status in Britain.

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