Skip to comments.Northern Ireland: Key players reunite for Good Friday agreement anniversary
Posted on 04/10/2008 9:43:07 AM PDT by llevrok
Key players in the negotiations which led to the Good Friday agreement have been reunited in Belfast today, to mark 10 years since the deal was signed.
The Irish taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, will join other politicians such as Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and former US senator George Mitchell for a conference celebrating the agreement.
But other major players in the negotiations will be absent from today's celebrations. Bill Clinton, the former US president, has pulled out, while Tony Blair has other commitments.
Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, is on an official visit to the US and Ian Paisley, the first minister, will not be attending as his party, the Democratic Unionist party, is boycotting the occasion.
Clinton is said to be concentrating on his wife Hillary's presidential election campaign in the US. However, Blair will be honoured in Dublin on Friday for his role in the negotiations.
Jim Allister, a DUP MEP, said yesterday that there was nothing for him to celebrate 10 years on.
"Why? Because it was the Belfast agreement which rewarded 30 years of terrorism in Northern Ireland by undermining both justice and democracy," he said.
But his claims were refuted by the US-Ireland Alliance, which is hosting today's event.
"Overall the bottom line of what has happened is positive. It's hard to see how anyone cannot view the fact that people are no longer killing each other in Northern Ireland as a good thing," said Trina Vargo, president of the alliance.
"There is a need for a business culture to develop and that is a huge challenge but if you were to say to me 10 years ago that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness would be working together at the head of a power sharing executive, going on the road to promote that, I would have been amazed."
The celebrations will be one of the last for Ahern in his official capacity as taoiseach. He announced last week that he plans to stand down from government next month.
He will join Mitchell and Adams, plus Nobel peace prize laurate John Hume, Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey, loyalist Davey Adams and Welsh secretary Paul Murphy for the conference.
The symposium will also feature contributions from SDLP leader Mark Durkan, ex-Northern Ireland assembly speaker Lord Alderdice, former Women's Coalition assembly member Monica McWilliams, the leader of the loyalist Progressive Unionist party Dawn Purvis, ex-Irish foreign minister David Andrews and his then-junior minister Liz O'Donnell.
Looks like Sen. Clinton could not be at the celebration. Pity. All the sniper fire must have kept her away.
Now THAT is an interesting photo. Who would’ve thought.
Ah, the chaos and drama of Anglo-Irish politics.
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