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Conor Murphy, Golden Bridges

A dhaoine uaisle, Dia daoibh go leor. Ba mhaith liom cúpla focal a ra anseo anocht ar an ócáid speisialta seo.

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished guests, it gives me great pleasure to be here and to join you all for the Irish Echo ‘Golden Bridges Award’ of 2009.

I had the pleasure shortly after taking Office as Minister in 2007 to also address the awards then, held in New York city were we honoured on that occasion, NY City Comptroller, Bill Thompson Jnr.

Since the restoration of our power-sharing Executive at that time in 2007 until now we have been on a journey of much rapid change in the North of Ireland. In political terms much has been achieved. It certainly has not been easy. We have faced many challenges, and many still remain. However, the new dispensation and political reality in the North of Ireland is proving popular across society. The Executive is delivering the real socio-economic benefits which for so long our communities could never imagine would be realised.

The support of Irish America and the United States Government throughout the peace process has been of huge importance in the delivery of peace and the establishment of power-sharing arrangements between republicanism and Unionism in the North of Ireland.

I want to pay special tribute to the Irish Echo for the role it has played as an important voice and strong advocate for human rights and equality and an inclusive peace process over the past decade.

The commitment of the US has again been reaffirmed in recent weeks with the appointment of US Economic envoy to Ireland, Mt Declan Kelly and the announcement that both he and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will visit the North next Monday accompanied by a delegation of US investors and business leaders.

They will see the transformation process at firsthand which is being driven by not only the political institutions and politicians, but civic society, the business community, communities who all keep the momentum for change moving.

Local people of course want local services delivered and managed by locally accountable government. So those powers which are still retained in London such as policing and justice must be transferred to our local Executive and that is the demand of the vast majority of parties and citizens, including both the Irish and British Government and the US administration also at this time.

This continued support is crucial. Now facing outwards with confidence, the North is certainly open for business, but yes does still need the longstanding support of our friends here, from all of you, in order to sustain the peace, advance economic growth and deliver real benefits for the Irish people. However, although depending on your goodwill, we also wish to build mutually beneficial relationships.Relationships between Boston and North-West Ireland for instance, which is the focus of quite a significant conference event, ‘Gateways to Tomorrow – Unlocking the Potential’ organised by the Echo also.

– We have so much to learn, exchange and experience from one another. We have been inspired throughout our years of friendship with the United States and continue to be.

– You have many great champions. People of real integrity, courage and conviction. Individuals who have dedicated a lifetime to improving the lives of others and by doing so have made so many personal sacrifices in their own lives.

– We are gathered here to honour one such individual today.

– A self-motivated and politically principled man who has dedicated his career to public service, Lieutenant Governor, Timothy Murray has through strong partnerships, at community, City Council and National levels, stimulated urban regeneration, improved transportation, improved schools and developed programmes to support working families and the homeless.

– A true champion who has been with and for the people for many years Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray is as I said earlier an inspiration and catalyst for change.

I salute your endeavours and I am privileged to be here today to present you with a Golden Bridges Award.

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