Ahern brings news of peace in Northern Ireland on St Patrick's Day
Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Monday declared before a US audience that the Northern Ireland peace process has been completed.
18 March 2008
Washington (dpa) - Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on Monday declared before a US audience that the Northern Ireland peace process has been completed.
Ahern said he had waited 10 years to be able to celebrate St Patrick's Day in peace during his annual trip to Washington and meeting with President George W Bush on the Irish national day.
"On St Patrick's 2008, we enjoy in Ireland peace, partnership and rising prosperity. And it is, president, the first time that anybody has been able to say that in the history of our country," Ahern said.
Bush credited Ahern with maintaining a "steady hand" in helping resolve the decades-old conflict, but both leaders acknowledged there remained some unresolved issues and highlighted the need for a deal on joint policing between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.
Protestant and Catholic leaders last year returned to a power- sharing executive that had been on hold for years as the Irish Republican Army refused to verifiably decommission its weapons. The IRA finally did so in 2006, paving the way for the Northern Ireland Assembly - first established by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement - to be restored.
"As a result of perseverance and hard work, Northern Ireland is a different place than it was last year," Bush said. "The United States will continue to stay engaged and will be very supportive of helping the process move forward."