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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 29, 2003

Statement on Northern Ireland Elections
Statement by the Press Secretary

October 29, 2003

Northern Ireland Elections

The United States welcomes the decision of the British Government to hold elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly on November 26. We commend Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern for their concerted, sustained efforts to work with the political parties in Northern Ireland to ensure a lasting peace. The United States shares the commitment of both the British and Irish Governments to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

The United States also welcomes the constructive pledge by Republicans to bring the conflict to a full and final closure, and the announcement by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) that it witnessed a third and substantial act of decommissioning by the IRA. Once again, the IICD's General John de Chastelain and Andrew Sens deserve our thanks for their important contribution to the process of normalizing political life in Northern Ireland.

Political progress does not take place in a vacuum. It is worth noting that this year Northern Ireland enjoyed its calmest summer in three decades. This is a tribute to citizens from all walks of life and to their political representatives. Credit also belongs to civic leaders, and to Hugh Orde and the new Police Service of Northern Ireland, along with its oversight and governing institutions.

Once the Assembly is formed, the United States calls on all parties to work to restore devolved governmental institutions and to make these institutions work to the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland. We also call on all parties to work rapidly toward the day when all paramilitary activities in Northern Ireland come to a complete end in a manner that instills confidence among all parties, so that political life in Northern Ireland can be truly described as normal.

The United States will continue to lend its good offices toward these ends and do all it can to advance the peace process in Northern Ireland.

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