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December 10, 2004

News 12/10/04 - Peace Process Update from Ambassador Reiss

(Thanks to the IAUC for permission to reprint this item. Jay)


I've been in communication with Ambassador Mitchell Reiss' office.
I asked them for an update on how the Ambassador feels the recent
Irish peace process negotiations are going. They informed me that
several New Jersey members of the IAUC have sent him letters of
concern. I asked him to reply to their letters of concern and I
would distribute it to all our members.

Below is the update regarding his views on the process and a
transcript of an interview Ambassador Reiss did for the BBC today.
He is headed back to Ireland next week to continue his work.

Deanna Turner
Director of Communications
Irish American Unity Conference


December 10, 2004

To IAUC Members in New Jersey,

Thank you for your letter of November 10 regarding developments in
Northern Ireland. I assure you that I share your disappointment
over setbacks in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
I have been in steady contact with the British and Irish
governments and with the political parties to break through the
impasse and restore a power-sharing government on a sustainable

Let me address some of the specifics of your letter in turn.
First, the Patten Commission recommendations have been implemented,
not ignored. Second, the Oversight Commissioner, a post created by
Patten, has consistently affirmed that the Policing Service of
Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the British and Irish governments have
lived up to the requirements of Patten. Third, your comments about
the PSNI are particularly unfair to the many dedicated young
Catholics who have joined the police, despite risks to themselves
and their families from dissident republicans. I urge you to read
the Commissioner's reports, available at

The Cory Report is also available on-line, at:
Since my appointment as Special Envoy, I have consistently called
for the British government to follow the recommendations of the
Cory Report by establishing an inquiry to investigate the deaths of
Pat Finucane and others. The British government is now in the
process of acting on the Cory recommendations. In September, I
gave a speech on Northern Ireland that addresses these issues in
greater detail. It is available on the State Department website

Finally, I appreciate you giving credit to Great Britain's
contributions to bringing freedom to the people of Iraq. However,
it is factually inaccurate to claim that Northern Ireland is under
"military occupation" by Britain or to suggest that Prime Ministers
Blair and Ahern need to do more to support the Good Friday
Agreement. In my experience with this issue, the governments in
London and Dublin have done all that is humanly possible to
implement the Agreement. Unfortunately, the political parties in
Northern Ireland have not been able to resolve key issues.

Yours sincerely,

Ambassador Mitchell B. Reiss


Ambassador Mitchell Reiss on Radio 4's Today programme:

A: "The President has been following this process very closely and
realised that everyone was getting very close to a final agreement.
He wanted to try and encourage all the parties to take the final
steps necessary to actually close the deal. And that was the
general tenor of his conversations with both the Reverend Paisley
and Gerry Adams."

Q. So was it simply a question of encouragement or has he or has
America more generally been involved in a more direct way in the

A: "I've been in touch with the governments and have made a number
of suggestions about how we might move the peace process forward.
In addition, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have
also been contributing, talking to their contacts in Northern
Ireland, also encouraging and trying to suggest ways forward."

Q. And when you say you've made some suggestions about moving the
process forward, could you be a bit more specific about that?

A. "Well, I prefer to keep my own counsel on that. I've had good
relations with both London and Dublin, very good talks with, not
just the DUP and Sinn Fein, but all the political parties and I
think one of the responsibilities of the United States is to keep
all lines of communication open to all political parties."

Q. I suppose what I'm trying to get at, is what does America bring
to the party, if you'll forgive the expression, at this stage?

A. "I think that we are seen as sort of good offices, as more
neutral - a more objective participant in this process. It
sometimes can be a clearing house for ideas, and sometimes
selectively can weigh in and suggest new ways forward that perhaps
hadn't occurred to all the parties. "

Q. Were you involved at all in the conversations about the use of
photographs to verify decommissioning?

A. "I spoke to the parties in Northern Ireland and the governments
on a whole range of issues - including on that issue."

Q. What's your view of that and the fact that the whole deal fell
down because of it?

A. "Well, I of course support the deal that the two governments put
forward. It's unfortunate that we couldn't get complete agreement.
It's easy to focus on the negative, on the shortcoming; I think
that's understandable. But let's not forget the big picture is that
there's been an enormous movement, there's been enormous progress
forward in the past few months. And when you compare it to where we
were last year it's really quite remarkable that we've come this
close in just a year's time."

Q. Who do you blame for the collapse of the whole agreement over
that question?

A. "You know, I understand it's fashionable to assign blame but in
my experience...not to do it in the public way - it is quite
unhelpful and my experience in negotiations is that it's not
terribly helpful to publically assign blame. This is a negotiation
and parties take positions on a whole range of issues. It's a
compromise and the final deal reflected that, so I think that the
important thing is to focus on where the differences now lie and to
see if we can bridge those remaining differences."

Q. Do you think that can be done and if so, how quickly?

A. "Of course you have to be optimistic or else you're in the wrong
business, and I think that it is possible to bridge these
differences. As you know the Secretary of State Paul Murphy and the
Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern are going to be meeting next
week in Hillsborough. They've asked me to join them, I'm looking
forward to those talks and to holding conversations with all the
political parties over there. ------- For more information on the
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