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Statement by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), on the Peace Process, 28 October 2003

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Text: Bertie Ahern ... Page compiled: Martin Melaugh

Statement by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), on the Peace Process, 28 October 2003


Despite intensive engagement, it has not been possible to complete the initiative that we believe would have represented the optimum pathway into the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Nevertheless, the developments over the last week have been very significant the statement by Gerry Adams, endorsed by the IRA, which I greatly welcome, and a third and substantial act of arms decommissioning by the IRA. Taken together, they represent a key advancement in the peace process on this island. We will be reflecting and also discussing with the British Government how we can respond to, and consolidate, these important developments.

I greatly appreciate the work of General John de Chastelain and his colleague Andrew Sens. The integrity and commitment they have brought to the work of the IICD has been crucial to the progress made thus far.

The people of Northern Ireland will now have their say on November 26th. In the coming weeks, I urge all of the parties to campaign on a positive and constructive basis, mindful that, following elections, a way will have to be found to restore the operation of all the political institutions.

The Good Friday Agreement remains the template for political progress. It is the only viable basis for an agreed way forward and the only one that offers the prospect of attracting support from both communities. Its fundamental values, principles and protections are not up for negotiation.

I commend the efforts made by all the pro-Agreement parties over the last five years to make politics work in the interests of all the people of Northern Ireland. They can be proud of their collective achievements. We know of all the difficulties and frustrations. But we have also seen what can be achieved. The situation in Northern Ireland is now unimaginably better as a result.

Together with Prime Minister Blair, I look forward to resuming political dialogue with the parties in the aftermath of the elections and to rapid agreement on the setting up of an inclusive Executive, to pressing on with the full implementation of the Agreement and fully securing its vision of a new beginning for all the people on this island

28th October 2003

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