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Barack Obama's Statement on the Irish Peace Process

When Barack Obama was a US Presidential candidate he issued a statement outlining his position on the Irish peace process. That statement was welcomed by a number of Irish-American groups and the following is an extract from his statement:

"After years of hard-earned progress, Northern Ireland is now poised to take another step forward. The IRA has abandoned violence and arms and Sinn Fein has now voted to support the PSNI. They have, in the words of Tony Blair, made a commitment that 'has been historic and has been real'.

"The gains of the last decade were in part made possible by U.S. engagement. Going forward, we should continue the practice of having a special envoy for Northern Ireland, and our president should personally engage on where America can play a constructive role, working closely with the Irish Taoiseach, the British prime minister, and party leaders in Northern Ireland.

"We must also pursue immigration policies that keep open the doors of opportunity in our own country. My father's experience has informed my own views on the issue, and I have seen the enormous contributions that Irish immigrants have made to this country. Last summer, I joined hundreds of thousands of people in Chicago to march on behalf of immigration reform, walking shoulder to shoulder with many Irish Americans who shared their own personal stories of hope and opportunity.

"The ties between America and Ireland go far beyond bloodlines. US investment in Ireland helped create the Celtic Tiger, and Ireland's economic success has in turn led to a boom in Irish investment in the United States. Incalculable cultural exchanges draw us together, as do common causes and common beliefs.

"In 1963, John F. Kennedy made his own journey in reverse and addressed the Irish Parliament. He cited the principles that unite our countries, quoting George Bernard Shaw's command to 'dream of things that never were, and ask why not,' and paying tribute to an Ireland that 'sent their doctors and technicians and soldiers and priests to help other lands to keep their liberty alive.'

"Today, President Kennedy would be pleased - but not surprised - to find the Irish working to lift up other lands from east Africa to east Asia, and to find an Ireland that has come so very far on its own. The story of our two countries is constantly evolving and joined together. I welcome this opportunity to be a part of that story, and look forward to hearing your concerns in the months ahead."