THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Statement by the President on the First Anniversary of the Cease-Fire in Northern Ireland
Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the Irish Republican Army's cease-fire in Northern Ireland, joined six weeks later by the Combined Loyalist Military Command. These historic decisions opened a door that had been closed to the people of Northern Ireland for too long -- the gateway to peace. On this anniversary, I urge the parties to build on the important work of the past year to secure a just and lasting settlement to a conflict that has cost so many lives.
We owe much of the progress to the courage and determination of Prime Minister Major and Taoiseach Bruton and their continued willingness to take risks for peace. I also salute the people of Northern Ireland for their extraordinary perseverance and their dedication to the cause of peace. They have endured violence with so much dignity, and now the future that they have long deserved is within reach.
I am looking forward to visiting a peaceful Northern Ireland later this year and paying personal tribute to those who have worked so hard to bring about this new day. I welcome the progress made in recent months toward reducing barriers, alleviating tension and promoting reconciliation. Much, however, remains to be done. To advance the goal of peace, I urge both republicans and loyalists to do their part and seriously address the issue of decommissioning paramilitary weapons. This is an essential step toward banishing once and for all the specter of violence that has haunted Ireland. I urge the parties to sit down together soon to discuss their aspirations for the future as well as their fears and differences. As I have said before, I would be pleased if talks were underway by the time of my visit..
As we look back on a year in which the bombs and guns have been silenced, I hope all the parties will reaffirm their commitment to build a peace in Northern Ireland for generations. The U.S. stands ready to support the people of Northern Ireland and the British and Irish governments in that effort.