Jeffrey, Kingsley, our friends from Northern Ireland, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us at this Causeway Institute International Alumni event.
This event is a celebration of the experience-sharing partnership between Bahrain and Northern Ireland which began over two years ago.
As many of you are aware, this programme began in 2013 when the first group of Bahraini delegates to Northern Ireland suggested that this experience-sharing was so worthwhile that others might want to share the experience. Since then, over 10 Bahraini delegations have visited Northern Ireland and participants have had the opportunity to join debates and discussion as well as to consider the lessons learned from both experiences in Northern Ireland and in Bahrain.
This experience-sharing and dialogue is essential if Bahrain is to achieve the reconciliation, sustainable stability and reform which Bahrainis and their international friends and partners wish to see. It is not, of course, the complete answer to the issues facing Bahrain. But this programme has made and continues to make an important contribution, complementing the reform vision of His Majesty King Hamad and the reform programme being driven forward by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
The Causeway Institute for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation has been particularly instrumental in this process. Lead by the Rt. Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Kingsley Donaldson, they have reflected upon their own experiences in Northern Ireland and, in doing so, have given you an opportunity to reflect on what happened here in Bahrain and what can be achieved through sustained dialogue and debate.
I and the British Embassy will continue to supporting both the efforts of Bahrainis and the work of the Causeway Institute in bringing people together and creating the space for informed discussion and producing a collective vision.
I would particularly like to thank:
Jeffrey and Kingsley for bringing this initiative to Bahrain and for their support to Civil Society Organisations. And to Ben Mallon for his support over the past year in bringing people together both in Northern Ireland and in Bahrain.
Our guests, Evelyn Collins, Head of the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, and Allan McBride, Director of the Victims Support Group, who are available this evening to talk with you about their experiences in Northern Ireland.
I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for his continued to support for the programme.
The Youth Pioneer Society, whose members have been very supportive in sharing youth experience and projecting the vision of young Bahrainis. They have also helped organise this event today, for which added thanks.
The Bahrain Foundation for Civil Reconciliation and Discourse, a longstanding partner of the Causeway Institute who have facilitated follow-up discussions in Bahrain for delegations that have been to Northern Ireland. Suhail, you are a good man and a good friend. Thank you for your support.
The National Institute for Human Rights, for their continued support and engagement on human rights, equality, diversity and outreach to civil society.
The Bahrain Institute for Political Development, Citizens for Bahrain and many others here today.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all of you on what you have achieved thus far, using your experiences in Northern Ireland and sharing your own experiences here. But you and we know there is more to be done. As British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said at the Manama Dialogue, we are not saying that Bahrain is perfect, but progress is being made. And you and what you have achieved and what you are doing is proof of that. So my thanks to all of you, to the excellent Causeway team and to my Programmes team at the Embassy.