Category: Archive

Ahern discusses North, immigration with Bush

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

At the annual shamrock ceremony at the White House on Friday, Ahern said that the strategy to restore political institutions in Northern Ireland had succeeded and that power-sharing between Sinn Fein and the DUP was a real possibility later this month.
“The will of the people of Northern Ireland is unmistakable and undeniable. They want their political representatives now to take responsibility together in government for building and consolidating peace,” Ahern told the president.
“Time is pressing. It is our deepest wish, and one that I know you share with us, Mr President, that nothing should allow the process to falter at this final moment,” he said.
Accepting the crystal bowl of shamrocks – the first time in the ceremony’s history that the shamrocks had been grown in the U.S. and not brought over on the Irish government jet – the president told Ahern that his administration would continue to support the process in the critical final weeks before the March 26 deadline.
“I cannot thank you enough for your strong leadership in resolving the issues of Northern Ireland, and I stand ready to help,” Bush told the taoiseach before meeting privately with him in the Oval Office to discuss issues further.
Bush’s comments came moments before an intruder breached the fence of the White House causing a security alert and the complete lock down of the building. Although the ceremony went without interruption, the taoiseach was told by the secret service that his planned press conference with the Irish media at the White House would have to be cancelled.
According to sources in Ahern’s delegation, the taoiseach complained to the president who reportedly told a secret service officer to “make it happen”. Minutes later, the taoiseach met with the Irish media in an adjacent administrative building.
“I thought I’d lost you all. Which of you jumped the fence?” he asked reporters, before proceeding with the press conference.
The shamrock ceremony – which guarantees the taoiseach a much coveted private meeting with the U.S. president each year – was the final act in a long list of high profile St. Patrick’s day receptions which saw the cr

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