Statement on the United Kingdom-Ireland Agreement Concerning Northern Ireland

November 15, 1985

I am delighted to join with Speaker O'Neill in welcoming the important Anglo-Irish accord announced today by Mrs. Thatcher and Dr. FitzGerald. We applaud its promise of peace and a new dawn for the troubled communities of Northern Ireland. I wish to congratulate my two good friends -- and outstanding Prime Ministers -- who have demonstrated such statesmanship, vision, and courage.

The peoples of the United Kingdom and of Ireland have made a great contribution to the political and intellectual heritage of the United States and to our economic and social development. We are particularly pleased that these two neighbors, faithful friends of America, so close to the United States in their ties of history, kinship, and commitment to democratic values have joined on a common causeway toward hope and harmony in Northern Ireland. All Americans -- and above all those of Irish descent who have prayed for an end to violence in the land of their ancestry -- can take pride in this important step forward.

We view this agreement as a clear demonstration of British and Irish determination to make progress concerning Northern Ireland and in their bilateral relations. Given the complex situation in Northern Ireland, all may not applaud this agreement. But let me state that the United States strongly supports this initiative, which pledges to both communities in Northern Ireland respect for their rights and traditions within a society free from violence and intimidation. On a number of occasions, we have joined the Irish and British Governments in condemning violence and discord in Northern Ireland and calling on all Americans not to assist, either with money or moral support, those misguided efforts that prolong the nightmare of terrorism and hatred. Our call is even more compelling now that a framework for peace has been agreed upon. I wish to reconfirm and reinforce our condemnation of terrorism wherever it may take place.

Now that a framework has been established, the work of constructing a durable peace must proceed. This will involve rebuilding what has been destroyed by hatred and violence and giving hope to those who have been tempted by despair. We have often encouraged Americans to let their foreign investments and vacation dollars, and the employment opportunities that accompany such spending, find their way to the Emerald Isle. I am proud that Northern Ireland enterprises in which American money is involved are among the most progressive in promoting equal opportunity for all.

The British and Irish Governments have pledged their cooperation in promoting the economic and social development of those areas, in both parts of Ireland, which have suffered from the instability of recent years. It is entirely fitting that the United States and other governments join this important endeavor. As President Carter said on August 30, 1977, ``In the event of a settlement, the U.S. Government would be prepared to join with others to see how additional job-creating investment could be encouraged, to the benefit of all the people of Northern Ireland.''

There are many in Congress who have shown their concern and sympathy for the people of Northern Ireland. And I will be working closely with the Congress, in a bipartisan effort, to find tangible ways for the United States to lend practical support to this important agreement. The Speaker, who has kindly joined me at the White House today, and I have already discussed how the United States could assist in promoting peace, friendship, and harmony between the two great Irish traditions.

In closing, permit me to underscore our heartfelt support for this courageous and determined effort to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.