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March 17, 1999

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St. Patrick's Day is a time for rejoicing in the spirit of all things Irish and Irish-American. But when the celebration is over, the essential work of peace must be completed. As you move forward, the United States will remain beside you every step of the way.

President Bill Clinton
March 17, 1999

President Clinton Is Working To Bring Peace To Northern Ireland. Last Spring, Protestant and Catholic leaders in Northern Ireland signed the historic Good Friday Accord, ending decades of bloodshed and establishing a new structure for peace throughout Ireland. This historic agreement, followed by a successful referendum and assembly elections, are the products of courageous leadership and popular resolve among the Irish people. President Clinton is proud to have contributed to Ireland's hard-fought peace by bringing Protestants and Catholics together and dispatching former Senator George Mitchell to assist in brokering the Accord. Today, the President honors Senator Mitchell for his tireless diplomatic efforts on behalf of this cause with the Medal of Freedom.

A Continued Commitment to Peace. Over the past year, Protestant and Catholic leaders alike have made significant progress towards implementation of the Good Friday Accord, including:

  • Establishing mandates for new executive departments and cross-border bodies;
  • Progress towards the establishment of a Commission on Policing;
  • Appointing a new Human Rights Commission;
  • Reducing British security forces in Northern Ireland;
  • Releasing of prisoner by the British and Irish governments.

Challenges Remain But The President Remains Committed To The Peace Effort. As the recent murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson demonstrated, keeping peace can be more difficult than waging war. President Clinton is committed to supporting the people of Ireland as they continue to work for peace by:

  • Providing financial support for the new Northern Ireland Assembly;
  • Training new Assembly members;
  • Supporting non-governmental organizations and civil society programs;
  • Investing in Northern Ireland's future by supporting the University of Ulster and other educational institutions;
  • Improving the investment climate in Northern Ireland.

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