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Vernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, speaking in advance of a Labour Opposition Day debate on Northern Ireland, said:

“This month marked the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It is one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government. And we stand ready to secure its legacy and help build peace, progress and prosperity in every community in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has made huge progress since 1998. It is a place transformed, with a power-sharing Executive at Stormont making decisions on things like health, education, transport, policing and the environment. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness are working together as First and deputy First Minister to encourage investment and tourism and create jobs and growth.

“But despite the huge strides forward, we cannot be complacent about the challenges that remain. And, for us in Westminster, devolution should not mean disengagement. We have a role to play and the government here – alongside the Irish Government - has a responsibility to help keep Northern Ireland moving in the right direction.

“That’s why Labour is leading a debate in Parliament today to talk about the progress we’ve made, the challenges we face and the work we need to do to build a better future. We are committed to keeping Northern Ireland high up the political agenda in London.

“Because on security, the economy and building a shared future, decisions made at UK-level have enormous implications for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland still matters. We can’t take the progress made for granted. And we must continue the work to build peace and prosperity in every community.”

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