Tánaiste hails Peace role of Senator Mitchell during Cavan visit

Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Micheál Martin TD visited Cavan today, Friday, 26 May where he hailed the contribution of Senator George Mitchell to peace on this island as he re-dedicated the ‘Peace for All’ statue on the bridge which bears the United States Senator’s name in Aghalane, County Cavan.

The Senator George Mitchell Peace Bridge links Counties Cavan and Fermanagh and was opened in 1999. It replaced the old Aghalane Bridge, which was destroyed by a bomb in November 1972.

The Tánaiste joined Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council in rededicating the ‘Peace for All’ statue by sculptor Derek A Fitzsimons, which has been recently reinstated following restoration, and also planted a peace tree at the site.

Earlier on Friday morning, Tánaiste Martin announced that the National Parks and Wildlife Service had reached agreement to purchase almost 1,000 hectares of upland habitat in County Cavan in Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark.

Speaking at Aghalane, An Tánaiste said, “I’m delighted to be invited here today to rededicate this statue, to honour Senator George Mitchell, and to commemorate the twenty five years since the Good Friday Agreement”.

“In this anniversary year, so much has already been said about Senator Mitchell’s crucial role in achieving peace.

“But few of those tributes could possibly be as eloquent or as profound as the statue for peace and bridge. They are physical manifestations of what his work in Ireland was all about,” he added.

Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr John Paul Feeley said, “As we commemorate a quarter of a century of the Good Friday Agreement, it is fitting that we join here today to acknowledge once of the chief architects of that agreement; someone who played such a key role in building bridges between communities on this island”.

“In rededicating this monument to ‘Peace for All’ and in planting a tree at this significant site, we reaffirm our commitment to continuing that legacy of peace. Having seen what is possible during the last 25 years without armed conflict, we owe it to future generations to do everything in our power to safeguard that legacy of peace,” said Cllr Feeley.

Acting Chief Executive of Cavan County Council, Mr Brendan Jennings, said, “In visiting the Senator George Mitchell Peace Bridge and rededicating the ‘Peace for All’, An Tánaiste has sent a clear message about the importance of continuing Senator Mitchell’s legacy of peace-building on this island. On the same day that that the Tánaiste announced the purchase of 1,000ha of upland habitat in West Cavan, it is a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to the border region, and an endorsement of the excellent cross-border cooperation between Cavan County Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council through our shared Geopark”.

While in Cavan, Tánaiste Martin also visited a new service block at the River Erne Marina in Belturbet which was installed by Cavan County Council in conjunction with Project Belturbet and Waterways Ireland, following receipt of a grant under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme through the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Tánaiste, who also holds the offices of Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, also paid a visit to the new headquarters of Cavan Civil Defence at Pullamore in Cavan Town. The new HQ comprises three commercial units which are currently being amalgamated into a modern all-purpose base for Cavan Civil Defence’s 180 volunteers, including offices, training rooms, welfare facilities, and vehicle storage.