McAleese heralds prospects for lasting peace in Ireland


President Mary McAleese has said the forthcoming year brings with it an unprecedented opportunity for a lasting peace on the island of Ireland.

Speaking after a Mass in Dublin this afternoon to celebrate World Day of Peace, Mrs McAleese said a new landscape of opportunity for peace in Ireland has been created by the IRA's decision to renounce violence.

I think there has been no year of greater success than this year when we saw the IRA in particular turn its back on violence for ever.
President Mary McAleese

The President said 2005 had been the most successful year in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. Mrs McAleese said huge efforts had already been made to turn the province away from violence and called on people to use the opportunities presented by events such as decommissioning.

"We have seen in Ireland what a huge investment you have to make to turn the tide of history away from conflict, away from violence, and how difficult that is.

"Already an enormous investment has been made in peace-making by hundreds of thousands of people on this island.

"They have been singularly successful and I think there has been no year of greater success than this year when we saw the IRA in particular turn its back on violence for ever.

"That's history in the making and it happened as a result of that huge investment that has been made over a very considerable time," she said.

Mrs McAleese said the day of prayer across the world was an invitation to everyone to consider what they could do to bring peace to countries and communities.

"It's an invitation to everybody to ask themselves what they can do to contribute to peace, and not just consider peace in the global sense of thinking in terms of war and conflict, but peace in our homes, peace on our streets, peace in our communities, peace in our country because wherever peace is absent it means people are behaving badly.

"If you're in a home where there's conflict, or in a community where there's conflict it's an invitation to become the peace-maker," she said.

Mrs McAleese also said the Irish had a great tradition of generosity and kindness, which should not be forgotten now that the country was wealthy. She said the effort made by people in Ireland through volunteering was extraordinary and she hoped 2006 would see even more of such work.

Earlier the congregation at the Mass heard that the continuation of the peace process was a great positive for the country. Delivering the Homily, Father Enda Lloyd, Episcopal vicar of the Dublin Diocese, said it was the obvious desire of every Irish person to leave political violence behind for ever.

Fr Lloyd said it was heartening to see people in Ireland and on the world stage dedicated to peace, despite setbacks and hardships, but he said violence was still visible in towns and cities and on television. Fr Lloyd asked for God's blessing on those working for peace in Ireland and urged them to continue their work for what he called the great prize.

Mrs McAleese was joined at the service at St Mary's Church, Haddington Road, by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and members of the Government and diplomatic corps.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin also attended.