The people of Northern Ireland must “play their part” in its future by turning out to vote in Wednesday’s Assembly elections, Tony Blair said today.
The British Prime Minister urged the electorate to “choose the future not the past” but stressed that it was ultimately a decision for them.
The Assembly was suspended more than a year ago and the parties are going into the election against the background of a deadlocked political process.
Speaking at a news conference at Lancaster House in London after the conclusion of today’s Anglo-French summit, Mr Blair said: “This election will be a very big moment for people in Northern Ireland.
“We are now at the point in the politics of Northern Ireland where I can’t make any more decisions, I can’t renegotiate agreements, I can’t rewrite those things that have already been agreed.
“The decision now is for the people of Northern Ireland and they are going to have to decide in a fundamental way whether Northern Ireland today is a better place than it was six, seven, 10 years ago, and if it is they are going to have to come and vote for it.”
Mr Blair continued: “This is something the politicians can’t do on their own, the people have got to play their part now and I just hope people bear in mind whatever frustrations and difficulties there are that Northern Ireland actually, as everybody really knows, is in far better shape than it was a decade ago.
“That is only because people had the courage to come together and to make an agreement.
“If people vote on election day in Northern Ireland they make a choice. If they don’t vote, if they stay at home, they make a choice and I hope people choose the future not the past but that’s a decision for them.”