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President Bush Visit a Vote of Confidence for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland Office, 17 June 2020

UK Secretary for Northern Ireland Shaun Woodward MP welcomed the June 17 visit to Belfast by US President George W Bush and said it was a strong vote of confidence in Northern Ireland.

He said: "This is a really important visit by the president and is a strong vote of confidence in Northern Ireland.

"The US has been hugely instrumental in helping the parties make stable progress on devolution, not least through the work to bring substantial American investment to Northern Ireland.

"Today's visit is further proof of the commitment by the president to ensuring not only the guarantee of stability, but emphasizing the value of the investment and the jobs that will be created in the future throughout Northern Ireland."

Bush Heaps Praise on Ulster "Success Story"
By Ian Graham, Press Association (excerpt)

Progress made in Northern Ireland over the past 10 years has been unimaginable, US President George Bush said today.

Speaking outside Stormont Castle where he met with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, he said the world was impressed by the progress of peace and reconciliation.

"This a good place for investment. Ultimately investment will help Northern Ireland reach its full potential."

He said other countries around the world looked to Northern Ireland and wondered if reconciliation was possible for them.

He added: "Northern Ireland is a success story. Oviously more work has to be done. Progress made to date would have been unimaginable ten years ago."

President Bush held 30 minutes of talks with political leaders at Stormont.

Afterwards he said they had discussed a range of topics including the devolution of policing and justice powers to Belfast from London and a recent successful conference during which a number of US investments in Northern Ireland were announced.

Mr Robinson said he was delighted Mr Bush was visiting Northern Ireland and joked that the president was recognizing Belfast as one of the major capitals of Europe.

"We are very grateful not just for him coming today but for the work that has been done by the president and his ambassadors over the previous years, and particularly for the work that is being done most recently for the investment conference.

"The endorsement of the president for our investment conference went a long way to convincing people throughout the world that Northern Ireland is open for business."

Last month President Bush joined a US/Northern Ireland investment conference in Belfast via live video link.

Within the last two weeks Mr Robinson has taken over from Ian Paisley as first minister and later today President Bush is due to meet Mr Paisley before leaving Stormont Castle.

Mr McGuinness today also thanked President Bush for his commitment to the Northern Ireland peace process.

"This is an opportunity for us to give our thanks for the tremendous work that has been done in terms of the United States of America on what is now undoubtedly one of the most successful peace processes in the world today," said Mr McGuinness.

"Beginning with the work of President Clinton, plus the contribution of George Mitchell and the envoys who were sent by President Bush, all of them played a very important role in contributing to what I do believe is, as the president has identified, a role model for how other conflicts can be resolved in other parts of the world."

He said representatives from Iraq had visited the parliament at Stormont to learn from the peace building that has gone on there.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that other places suffering from conflict like ours are anxious to learn from our experience."

The Sinn Fein representative said he recognized that the experience of the peace process in Ireland may not transfer automatically to other places, but said he felt lessons could be learned.

"We don't believe that we have got all of the answers, but what we can certainly do is outlay our experiences for others to consider."

Mr McGuinness also praised President Bush's support for the efforts to attract inward investment to Northern Ireland.

"We are very hopeful in the days ahead, in fact we are confident, that much needed jobs will flow from that.

"I think finding good jobs and a decent standard of living and facing up to the economic difficulties that our people have to endure is a very important part of the workload which Peter and I as first and deputy first minister need to take forward in the time ahead."

President Bush's visit to Stormont Castle began with a private meeting with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness.

Following their talks in Mr Robinson's private office, the three men joined Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Taoiseach Brian Cowen for discussions on the Northern Ireland economy.

Talks were held at the Northern Ireland Cabinet table, where the political leaders were joined by Finance Minister Nigel Dodds and Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey.

Following the meetings, the president was due to visit an integrated school in Belfast.

President Bush's visit fulfils a pledge he made to former-First Minister Ian Paisley and Mr McGuiness when he met them at the White House last December.

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