Obama to consult North’s leaders over US support

Spokesman says president will continue to be 'ardent' backer of peace process

US president Barack Obama will meet Northern Ireland's leaders during his visit to the G8 summit to discuss how best the US can support the region in future, including the possible appointment of a special US envoy.

Asked about the possibility of an appointment of a special US envoy to Northern Ireland, a senior Obama administration official said there have been different kinds of proposals for America's future involvement in the North but Mr Obama would like to consult with Northern Irish leaders before any decisions are made.

The US has been a “very strong supporter of the peace process in Northern Ireland” and would remain “an equally ardent supporter of Northern Ireland”, the official said.

The Obama administration was “eager to have a conversation about the best way that we can continue to support these efforts,” the official said.


Discussions will take place between Mr Obama and Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on how the US will support the region in future.

Mr Obama will consult with Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness on different proposals.

In a speech in Belfast during his visit to Northern Ireland for the G8 summit on Monday and Tuesday, the president is expected to call on the people to take necessary steps to consolidate the gains of the peace process they have made.

The official said that proposals in the “Together: Building a United Community” initiative announced by the North’s leaders last month were “the first steps in a long and necessary journey towards building a better shared future for Northern Ireland”.

The official said that the people have “a lot to be proud in terms of what they have accomplished and that pride can be on display at the G8 summit as the eyes of the world look to Northern Ireland”.

Welcoming an economic aid package for Northern Ireland announced by British prime minister David Cameron yesterday, the administration official said that the US Department of Commerce was looking at ways to support an investment conference in October announced as part of that package.

On the fragility in the peace process around the flag protests and violence from dissident republicans, the Obama administration is calling on the leaders in Northern Ireland and particularly the people of Northern Ireland to support proposals outlined in the United Community initiative last month.

The administration supports an “expeditious process” to address issues ranging from protests to parades to flags and the “issues of the past,” the official said. “From our perspective the only way to effectively solidify and make true and lasting and deep the peace in Northern Ireland is to deal with all of these issues in a forthright and conclusive way that takes into account the perspectives from across the spectrum in Northern Ireland,” the official said.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times