A FORMER schoolgirl who made headlines around the world when she pleaded with Tony Blair to bring peace to Northern Ireland has said she believes the Good Friday Agreement is now being "abused and betrayed". 

When she was just 12, Margaret Gibney became one of the faces of the peace process after writing a letter to then Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair, in which she described having known only one year of peace in her entire life due to the Troubles. 

After Tony Blair discussed Gibney's letter on American television she was thrown into the limelight and invited to 10 Downing Street. 

Blair would then go on to broker a historic powersharing peace deal in Northern Ireland - the Good Friday Agreement - which is credited as largely bringing an end to the bloody conflicts in the country. 

However, Gibney, who is now 38 and working as a trauma counsellor in Belfast, has said she has complicated feelings about Tony Blair and the state of politics in her country. 

She said: “I still feel like he was a driving force in the peace process.

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“But as you get older you see other things, the inconsistency, Blair going into the Iraq War after being so heavily involved in the peace process here.

“I cannot even watch the news at the minute because it makes me so angry.

“I feel that the Good Friday Agreement is being abused and betrayed by the current political system and that lack of integrity infuriates me."

She added that the failure of politicians to come to an agreement and successfully recall the Stormont Assembly had let down the people of Northern Ireland.

“We haven’t had a functioning government for more than nine months," said said.

"If I didn’t go to work for nine months I’d be on the dole.

“But you still have communities who are there for each other. Politics isn’t just about the people on the hill, it is about every person that lives in this country.

“There is so much generosity in the community and it is grassroots community activists who are keeping people afloat at the minute. I am waiting for the politicians to catch up with the ordinary people in our country.”

The Good Friday Agreement is due to turn 25 in 2023. Ireland's deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said it would be a "great shame" if powersharing cannot be restored in Stormont by the time of the anniversary in Easter. 

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Gibney shot to fame when she was a pupil at Mount Gilbert Community College in 1997 and participated in a school project to write to famous people, asking them to contribute a letter of peace for Northern Ireland.

She said: “I wrote to Boyzone – I loved Boyzone at the time – and to Mother Theresa and to Cherie Blair, telling her that I had only ever known one year of peace in my life because of the Troubles.

“Tony Blair had just become Prime Minister and I thought he could have a role supporting us in Northern Ireland.

“I remember going in to school on the Monday morning and being summoned to the headmaster’s office. I thought ‘Oh God, what have I done?’

“He sat me down and said there was a room full of reporters from all around the world wanting to speak to me.

“It turned out my letter had been talked about by Tony Blair on American TV, when he was being interviewed alongside Bill Clinton.

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“After that, I spent days talking to reporters from all over the world.

“I was just a shy schoolgirl but I remember that I felt I had a duty to speak out. It wasn’t very often that young girls from my community got the chance.”

Shortly afterwards, she travelled to Downing Street to meet Mr Blair.

“I will always remember coming outside and seeing this huge amount of press – there were just dozens and dozens and of cameras pointing at me. I was so nervous. All I could say was that we wanted peace, that no child should have to grow up in violence.”

After that, Ms Gibney’s life changed. She met the Clintons, worked alongside Jemima Khan as a Unicef ambassador, and toured with Irish folk band The Fureys.