Message of Condolence to His Majesty King Charles III by the Speaker of the Assembly, Alex Maskey

Hillsborough Castle, 13 September 2022

King Charles III, during this period of public mourning for Queen Elizabeth, we are mindful that you and your family grieve on the passing of a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother.

I hope that you and your family can take comfort from the appreciation and warmth that has accompanied the tributes to The Queen from across these islands and across the world.

Ba mhaith liom comhbhron a dheanamh leat ag an am crua seo.

I would like to sympathise with you at this difficult time.

On the walls of Parliament Buildings at Stormont, there are images from two of Queen Elizabeth’s previous visits. The first during the Coronation tour in 1953 and the second for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

It is extraordinary to consider how much social and political change Queen Elizabeth witnessed in the time between those visits, and indeed throughout her long reign.

Yesterday, an Assembly of unionists, republicans, nationalists and those for whom the constitution is not their main focus, united to pay tribute to the late Queen. When she first came to the throne, no-one would have anticipated that.

Nor would it have been contemplated that someone from my background and political tradition would be before you in this position today, as Speaker.

We can of course never forget that, over the last decades, too many have experienced tragedy and sorrow which will never leave them.

We have to understand that there are those for whom our political process has not yet been enough to ease their hurt and pain.

Thankfully, with the Good Friday Agreement and other significant developments, in that time we have also seen great efforts to build the peace for the future, as painstaking and frustrating as it may at times be.

Queen Elizabeth was not a distant observer in the transformation and progress of relationships in, and between, these islands.

She personally demonstrated how individual acts of positive leadership can help break down barriers and encourage reconciliation.

Queen Elizabeth showed that small but significant gestures - a visit, a handshake, crossing the street or speaking a few words of Irish – can make a huge difference in changing attitudes and building relationships.

Her recognition of both the British and Irish traditions, as well as the wider diversity of our community, was exceptionally significant.

In all of this, she personally underlined that one tradition is not diminished by reaching out to show respect to another.

Of course, such acts of leadership do not come without risks, or the need for courage and determination to see them through.

We are thankful for Queen Elizabeth’s commitment and encouragement to building peace and reconciliation across these islands, and indeed for all of those who seek to keep us moving towards that goal.

King Charles, with the Queen Consort at your side, you now lead an institution of long history and tradition.

I represent the elected Assembly of a society which has struggled with the legacy of our past and how we move on from it, without leaving those who have suffered behind.

During her visit to Dublin, Queen Elizabeth said that “whatever life throws at us, our individual responses will be all the stronger for working together and sharing the load.”

Let all of us here pay heed to that.

As we remember Queen Elizabeth’s positive leadership, let us all reflect that such leadership is still needed.

Let us be honest enough with ourselves to recognise that often that leadership has been lacking when it has been required.

I want to acknowledge that your own words and actions over the years have already shown that you are seized of the importance of reconciliation and are committed to playing your part in it.

The challenge for all of us is to renew the work that you and Queen Elizabeth have already done.

The responsibility on all of us is to work together to build a better future for our whole community.

In the time ahead, we will return to focus on that future at the start of this new era.

However, the next few days will rightly be focused on a family, a nation and a world, paying its respects and saying goodbye to Queen Elizabeth.

Yesterday in Parliament Buildings, Members expressed the condolences and sentiments of those they represent in our community.

The thoughts and prayers of the Assembly are with you and your family in your grief.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

May she rest in peace.

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