"As Minister of Education I have one of the most important briefs in terms of rebuilding and regenerating our society. I made my priorities clear from the beginning. Equality, choice, accessibility and excellence will be my watchwords. We must collectively create an education system, which both accommodates the great diversity in our society while teaching us all about our common goals and identities. Barriers based on socio- economic position, geography, ethnic status, linguistic status, gender, sexuality and disability must become a thing of the past.
"Both my party and those of other political persuasions and indeed our respective communities have together brought this day to pass. It was unimaginable not only years before, but weeks ago.
"The first meeting of the new executive began work on the programme of government. The good spirit of the meeting was only dulled by the absence of our two DUP colleagues. It is clear that the DUP by taking their seats on the executive are in reality sharing power with the representatives of the nationalist people. Our commitment to inclusion embraces even our most determined political opponents.
"The next century will see a united Ireland which in the words of the 1916 republican proclamation treats all the children of the nation equally. That is our vision and our task."