Christmas is a time of peace and reconciliation. This peace was cruelly shattered last week in London, as it has been many times in Northern Ireland. But the courage and dedication of all those who work for peace and who guard our freedom shines through like a beacon of hope.
I began my visit this morning in the beautiful Ards Peninsular and met many shoppers in the streets of Newtownards. They gave us a wonderful welcome. I can assure them, and families throughout the province, that the Government is fully committed and determined to make Northern Ireland a better and more peaceful place for everyone. In the face of considerable difficulties we have managed to allocate over £4,000 million to the province next year and I know that the money will be used to good effect.
But none of us can forget the inhuman, contemptuous—and contemptible work of the terrorist. It will not achieve their objectives. We do not surrender to bullets or bombs.
I have visited some units of the Army, Police and UDR who are charged with defending our freedom under the law. I saw them in barracks at Armagh and at duty stations as far apart as Newtownards and Aughnacloy. I also met the wives of many RUC officers who I know share the anxiety and responsibilities of their husband. We thank them for their bravery and assure them of our total support in their difficult and often dangerous work. May I say that I warmly welcome and accept the invitation of G. Fitzgeraldthe Taoiseach to step up even further our co-operation in the battle against terrorism. We are thankful too for the valiant efforts of those in the Churches and community who are forthright in condemning violence and who strive to build harmonious relations between all our citizens.
Jim Prior and I will do everything in our power to achieve peaceful political progress in the year ahead.
To all who yearn for peace with freedom I wish you a happy Christmas and a good New Year.