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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 8, 2003
Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern on Northern Ireland
We affirm our individual and collective commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and to its full and complete implementation. The people of Northern Ireland and their leaders have a momentous opportunity to ensure that peace is strengthened and political stability secured.
The opportunity to cement the peace is historic. The case is compelling; the cause just; the outcome must be fair, balanced, and comprehensive. The acceptance and implementation of the Governments' forthcoming proposals would promote the reconciliation that the people of Northern Ireland desire and deserve.
These proposals, built on the firm ground of the Good Friday Agreement, hold out the prospect of enormous progress. They reflect our shared view that there can be no place in Northern Ireland for paramilitary activity and capability. The break with paramilitarism in all its past forms must be complete and irrevocable. The proposals will encompass a wide range of additional issues, including normalization, the devolution of justice and policing, sustainable political institutions, and human rights. The participation of all parties in effective community policing, a necessary key to long term stability in Northern Ireland, would constitute a significant step forward. There will be a need for a mechanism, one designed to safeguard the interests and rights of all, to verify compliance with the key undertakings. All three Governments are committed to supporting effective monitoring arrangements. Acts of completion, and a reaffirmation that political change is to come through exclusively peaceful and democratic means, will renew and expand trust and confidence.
Peace is its own dividend. At the same time, peace fosters an environment where entrepreneurship and business creativity can thrive, where jobs will be created, and where prosperity will follow. Our governments have agreed to work together to explore ways to encourage the flow of investment to Northern Ireland.
We call upon Northern Ireland's political representatives, community and business leaders, and citizens from all walks of life to respond positively to the forthcoming statements. We see no better way to fulfill the promise of the Good Friday Agreement. They have an unprecedented chance to continue their bold march from a troubled past to a future of promise and hope for generations to come. In seizing this opportunity, Northern Ireland will serve as a model to the world for dialogue and negotiation, demonstrating to all that what was once divided can be drawn together in a spirit of reconciliation and respect.
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