Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (42, 43)

Dinny McGinley

Question:

27 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the recent meetings between the Northern Ireland adviser to the American President and parties in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4308/04]

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Willie Penrose

Question:

29 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of his meeting on 4 February 2004 with the new US special adviser for Northern Ireland, Dr. Mitchell Reiss. [4201/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take questions Nos. 27 and 29 together.

I met Dr. Mitchell Reiss on 4 February and was pleased to welcome him on his initial visit to Ireland in his capacity as President Bush's special envoy to Northern Ireland. His appointment as special envoy, replacing Dr. Richard Haass, is testament to the ongoing commitment on the part of the US Administration to playing a positive and proactive role in the peace process. During his tenure as special envoy, Richard Haass developed a profound knowledge of the peace process as well as a deep personal commitment to its success. I am confident that Dr. Reiss will demonstrate the same ability and commitment in this role.

At our meeting last week, Dr. Reiss and I exchanged views on our respective recent contacts with the political parties in Northern Ireland. Dr. Reiss had just completed introductory meetings with the main parties and he shared with me some of his initial impressions of the main issues currently facing us in the process. We also discussed the prospects for the review of the British-Irish Agreement and agreed on the importance of the full implementation of the agreement, not least in regard to its key commitments on the operation of stable political institutions and the complete ending of paramilitarism. I look forward to further meetings with Dr. Reiss in the near future.