With the help of notable members of the unionist and nationalist communities throughout the island, the Irish Association was founded in 1938. Since then the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations has been working to make reason and good will take the place of passion and prejudice in Ireland, North and South.
During the past seven decades, the Irish Association has made a real contribution to the growth of tolerance, reconciliation, mutual trust and human rights; the record of seminars, interactive dialogues and conferences attached indicates our capacity to sustain and develop this contribution.
We are now faced with a challenge to continuously transform and sustain the dynamism to continually recreate platforms and processes to enable new forms of relationships to emerge in Northern Ireland and on the island of Ireland.
To negotiate successfully this new, critical juncture in the island's history, an impartial forum for dialogue and debate, respected by all, is required. The delicate period ahead of social and political change demands broader and deeper analysis, debate and communication at all levels of Irish society. The Irish Association, with its established reputation of fairness and hospitality to the most diverse traditions, is ideally placed to assist in this task.
The Irish Association will continue to provide as many opportunities as possible to encourage key participants in social and political change to put forward for examination and debate their ideas on the issues that will shape the patterns of life on the island of Ireland in the years to come.