By Ray O’Hanlon
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams have moved quickly to remind President-elect George W. Bush of his campaign commitments to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
In a letter to Bush congratulating him on behalf of the Irish government and people, Ahern pointed to a letter he had received from Bush during the campaign in which the Texas governor had expressed his personal interest in the peace process and its ultimate success.
In a separate statement, Ahern said that Bush had made it clear that, as president, he would use the prestige and influence of the United States to help develop and deepen the peace process.
"I look forward to working with President-elect Bush on the whole range of Irish/American common interests," Ahern said.
It is understood that in his letter to Bush, Ahern also invited the incoming president to visit Ireland at some point in his term of office.
Follow us on social media
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Irish Echo
Ahern said that he looked forward to continuing Ireland’s strong economic, cultural and political relations with the United States under Bush’s leadership.
Ahern also congratulated Vice President Gore on the hard-fought election campaign.
Adams said in a statement that he wished President-elect Bush well during his term of office.
"I am confident that he and his administration will play a strong and positive role in the Irish peace process," Adams said.
"Support for the peace process and the Good Friday agreement and the need for a future based on justice and equality has come from both Republican and Democratic parties and across all walks of life in the USA."
The President elect, Adams said, had already spoken out on matters relating to the peace process and he looked forward to working with him and the new administration in the future.
The good-will messages from Ahern and Adams came as some press reports played up the fact that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was first off the mark in congratulating Bush, doing so only moments after Al Gore conceded the election to his Republican rival.
During the election campaign, the Bush camp issued several statements on Ireland, culminating in a particularly strong party platform statement at the GOP convention.
The statement urged full implementation of the Patten Commission recommendations on police reform in Northern Ireland and promised a U.S. envoy, should it be found necessary, in the effort to secure "lasting peace, justice and reconciliation" in Northern Ireland.
In his letter to Ahern, dated Sept. 8, Bush concluded by stating that the people of the entire island of Ireland had a friend in George W. Bush.
"America should remain engaged in the Irish peace process, and I will work hard and pray always for a lasting peace in Northern Ireland," the then-candidate concluded.