Belfast Telegraph

Bond between UK and Ireland can survive Brexit, Theresa Villiers to say

The bond between the UK and Ireland can survive long after Brexit, according to the Northern Ireland Secretary.

In a speech at Stormont House, Theresa Villiers, who campaigned to leave the European Union, is expected to say she looks forward to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries.

She will say: "We have seen all too well how history can divide.

"Our ambitious goal throughout this decade is seek to use history to unite.

"To build on the political progress that has been made here.

"To strengthen further the strong bilateral relationship that exists between the United Kingdom and Ireland ... a relationship that will endure long beyond the UK's exit from the EU.

"And to bolster the special ties that exist throughout these islands as we look forward to our next century of co-operation, partnership and friendship."

Ms Villiers will also speak about the success of the "decade of centenaries" being commemorated across the UK and Ireland.

She will praise political leaders for not allowing sensitive events like the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Easter Rising or Battle of the Somme to be hijacked by those seeking to re-open old wounds, promote discord and division.

"While it is never easy to view history with complete objectivity and impartiality, both administrations have been clear that we seek to put historical accuracy and mutual respect for different perspectives at the heart of our approach.

"And so far ... while acknowledging that even more difficult anniversaries lie ahead ... I think we have so far been successful," Ms Villiers will say.

The speech comes ahead of a visit to France where thousands of soldiers from north and south of the Irish border lost their lives at the Somme 100 years ago.

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