Speech by Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the Irish American Partnership, Boston Harbour Hotel
First, I would like to thank Joe Leary for inviting me here today.
I want to pay tribute to Joe and his team for the initiatives which they carried out in Ireland.
I would like also to thank the Partnership for all your support and commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.
I know that members of the Partnership follow events in Northern Ireland closely.
I know and share your disappointment at recent setbacks, which we have seen in the peace process.
But I know also, that you share our determination to move on - to see the Process deliver the lasting peace, which the people of Ireland deserve.
I want to assure you today that the Irish Government will not be found wanting in our efforts to deliver that peace.
To that end we will continue to drive the agenda of equality and justice.
We will continue to drive the North-South agenda.
We will continue to press for security normalisation.
We will do all in our power to move beyond the present setback.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The cause of that present setback is clear – the solution is equally clear.
The problem is the Provisional Movement's failure to move on paramilitarism and criminality.
The solution is to make that move – now.
This is the clear will of the Irish People – no Irish republican should oppose that will.
The Irish People – in the first act of all-Ireland self-determination since 1918 - voted for the Good Friday Agreement.
That Agreement created the legitimate expectation of an end to paramilitarism and criminality.
Again I stress, that is the will of the Irish people.
All we ask is that the Provisional Movement heed that will.
Its time now for bold moves.
Its time for leaders to lead.
Its time to move from process to definitive peace.
Its time to heed the will of the Irish people.
Again I state, the Irish Government will not be found wanting as we try to take the process forward.
We will exclude no party.
We will give any assistance necessary.
Ultimately however, only the Provisional Leadership can take the necessary steps.
They created this problem - only they can solve it.
The Irish Economy
As you know, the Irish economy has weathered the international downturn and the medium-term outlook is positive.
We have virtually full employment, inflation is under control and the economy is forecast to grow by over five percent this year.
The consensus among economists is that we can maintain a growth rate of 4 to 5 per cent until the end of the decade.
Today I want to stress the role of the US in building our present economic success,
From the emigrant remittances in the 1940's and 50's right through to today's US corporate investments, this Country has played an invaluable role in our economic development.
US investment has helped us become a leading European location for high technology manufacturing. In the pharmaceuticals, software and financial services we have established a global reputation.
Today, we are targeting the Internet Services and digital media sectors. Already Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Amazon and PayPal have all chosen to locate in Ireland – all creating jobs and investment.
Our pro-business environment, access to the EU single-market and the fact that we are the sole English speaking State in the Eurozone has increased our attractiveness to US investors. So to has our 12.5 per cent corporate tax regime – one of the most attractive in the world.
However I should also stress the role of Irish-America in selling the benefits of Ireland within Corporate America.
We are keenly aware of the role, which you have played in the transformation of the Irish economy.
Today, I want to thank you for that role.
I want to conclude by thanking the Partnership again and wishing you all a happy St. Patrick's day.