Remarks With The Right Honorable Mr. Peter Robinson, M.L.A., First Minister of Northern Ireland and Mr. Martin McGuinness, M.P., M.L.A., Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 18, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, I’m delighted to welcome two friends, two colleagues for many years.  Both the first minister and the deputy first minister are extraordinarily welcome here.  And we’re delighted to have this chance to catch up on everything that is happening in Northern Ireland.  And I want to warmly welcome you here and, Martin, back to the State Department.

MINISTER ROBINSON:   Well, we really appreciate the Secretary of State taking time.  I think we all know just how busy her days have been with everything that’s happening around the globe.  But we want to bring her some good news – Northern Ireland was completing the first four-year term of an assembly ever for our power-sharing administration.  So in the past, assemblies have collapsed and been suspended, but we have managed to complete a whole term of the assembly.  And we have made a number of very significant successes.  We have created, even against the global economic downturn, more jobs over the last four years than at any time in the history of Northern Ireland.  We have spent more money on infrastructure in the last four years of that assembly term than at any time since records began. 

So there’s a good news story from Northern Ireland.  We really do appreciate all of the assistance that the Secretary of State (inaudible) presidents past and present have been to Northern Ireland and it’s our opportunity to say thank you. 

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you, Peter.

MINISTER MCGUINNESS:  The Secretary of State was one of the best friends that the island of Ireland has ever seen.  And all that has been achieved, outlined just now by Peter, would not have happened without the support of President Clinton and without the present Secretary of State.  So we will always be indebted to her for the fact that we now have completed the (inaudible) four unbroken years of an executive which takes decisions on behalf of the entire community that represents real progress and has been an honor for me, both Peter and before him was Ian Paisley to bring about what has been an historic change.  We absolutely believe that in the aftermath of the upcoming elections, due to happen on the 1st of May, that the institutions that we’re part of, which are power-sharing in nature and north-south, will go from strength to strength.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you all very much.

PRN: 2011/421