President praises Belfast accord in US

 

Wrapping up a four-day visit to the United States, the President, Mrs McAleese, attended a breakfast meeting in New York yesterday to discuss the Belfast Agreement with academics, UN officials and media representatives. Calling the agreement a remarkable experiment in radical democracy, the President told the International Peace Academy that Ireland now had perhaps the greatest opportunity to overcome the divisions of the past.

The agreement allowed a new beginning built on partnership, equality, consensus and human rights, she said. But, while there were real difficulties in implementing parts of the agreement, it would be foolish not to recognise the progress that had been made.

Mrs McAleese also praised what she called the remarkable tenacity of Nobel Prize winner Mr John Hume, whose mantra of reconciliation over the past 30 years had finally had an effect.

Founded in 1970, the International Peace Academy is an independent conflict resolution institution that carries out research and seminars on peacekeeping, and works closely with the United Nations. The group's round-table sessions bring together leading members of the diplomatic, business and non-government communities as a forum for discussion and a testing ground for new ideas.

Later yesterday, the President was scheduled to travel to upstate Rochester Institute of Technology and to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the world's largest technological college for deaf students. Mrs McAleese is due to fly back to Ireland today.