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Diplomacy in Action

Joint Press Statements With First Minister Robinson and Deputy First Minister McGuinness

Joint Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Stormont Castle, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
October 12, 2009


SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. It is such a pleasure to be back in Belfast, and to see so many old friends. I want to thank First Minister Robinson and Deputy First Minister McGuinness for their welcome, and for our productive meetings today.

I have had the honor of hosting them in both Washington and New York this year, so I am very pleased that I could repay their visits by coming to Belfast. It is a short visit, but it is filled to the brim. I am looking forward in a few minutes to addressing the Stormont Assembly. I am grateful for this great honor, to congratulate the people of Northern Ireland on their remarkable accomplishments over the last decade, and to talk about the road ahead.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Northern Ireland has come a long way. Old enemies are working together to build a stable, prosperous future. And I have seen firsthand how you have become a model for conflict resolution and reconciliation around the world. I hear that in my travels; people who are determined to choose peace and progress over violence and division look toward you. And I am here today to send a strong message that the Obama administration and the United States are committed to supporting you, as you continue your journey.

I am looking forward to helping reopen the Belfast City Hall, a symbol of this city's rebirth, later today. I will see leaders and peace activists, who have become dear friends over the years. We have walked together, especially including the Women of Vital Voices.

I will also be talking with business leaders about the dividends created by the progress you've made, and the opportunities that will come as investors gain even greater confidence in the long-term stability of Northern Ireland. This was an important part of my conversation with both the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister.

I have brought with me our new economic envoy, Declan Kelly, who is already hard at work, fostering economic ties. The United States stands ready to help in any way we can. Our two peoples are bound together by both historic and ancestral ties nurtured by friendships and partnerships. Both my husband and I feel a special bond with this land. And, as Secretary of State, I am committed to continuing to offer a hand of friendship and partnership.

It is a great honor for me to be with you, and to have this chance once again to meet with both Peter and Martin, and to work together to consolidate the progress of the past, and to help build a new foundation for a future of peace and prosperity. Thank you.

FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. We are hugely indebted to Secretary Clinton for her visit today, and for the very long period when she has actively shown an interest in Northern Ireland. Secretary Clinton is right to say that we have come a long way. What we are doing, of course, is not (inaudible) destination. Like any (inaudible), we must continue the journey. We intend to do that.

You will see for yourselves that, even from your last visit, those who have come from the United States, that even the weather is better in Northern Ireland now. We have made real progress in setting up our administration. We have made more decisions in our executive than our predecessors did, and we have done it in a shorter period of time.

Of course, there are difficulties. But I believe that we are committed to making it work. We are committed to the long haul. We are committed to overcome the problems that we will face. And we are very grateful for the assistance that we have had from the United State -- from this and, indeed, from particularly the two previous administrations.

We are delighted that the ambassador is with us today. And you will note the possessive word "our" economic advisor, Declan Kelly, who has rolled his sleeves up, and he has been dying to work immediately, and we enjoy working with him. And he inspires us with his own drive and enthusiasm.

So, you are very welcome, Secretary Clinton. It is good to have you back in Northern Ireland. You have given us an opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland. And we will have the opportunity to do that to investors as your visit continues. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Peter.

DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: I would like to say the heartiest cead mile failte to Secretary Clinton. It is absolutely wonderful that you are with us here in Belfast today. Hillary Clinton has been a true friend to all of us, back over 15 years. And her continual intellectual and emotional and political engagement with us is something that has been to our enormous benefit over all of that time.

I believe that we are a society moving forward to a destination of equality and partnership. And you have been with us every step of the way, as have the two previous administrations.

We do face, as Peter has said, huge challenges in the time ahead. Yes, we have had many accomplishments over the course of recent times, but this is not a time for complacency. This is a time for recognizing the great achievements, but facing them through challenges which clearly face us.
And there are many challenges, because there are people out there within the political process and outside of the political process -- and some of them spoke yesterday in a most welcome fashion, when the recognized the futility of continued violence in our society -- (inaudible) to put down their guns, and recognize that the best way forward is through purely political and democratic means.

So, I believe that our process is working. I believe it can work much better if we work in a spirit of equality and partnership, and press on to face and overcome the challenges which are clearly before us.

On the economic front, we are absolutely inspired by Secretary Clinton's appointment of Declan Kelly as the economic advisor. And we believe that there will be good news stories, even within days, on that front, because economic development we have put as the major issue in our program for government.

And it is very important to reach out to those people who suffer inequality, social deprivation, and disadvantage, those people who face the battles in a daily way against sectarianism and racism within our society. And I believe that, together, Ourselves, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, and the SDLP, the Alliance Party, the Progressive Unionist Party, the Greens, all those parties represented in the Assembly, will continue to work together, and do so in a way that will deliver. Because delivery is the key word. Deliver leadership, but most importantly, deliver results for the people who matter most, and that is the people who are right there, who are depending on the continued success of what is undoubtedly one of the most successful peace processes in the world today.

So, thank you for coming. Thanks for all of your contributions. And we look forward to a long and very prosperous relationship in the economic front, working with the U.S. in the time ahead. Go raibh ma agat.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.

PRN: 2009/T13-8

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