THE congressional Friends of Ireland group hosted a special reception in honor of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern after his speech. Congressman Joe Crowley of New York told reporters that he felt Ahern's speech was well received."It was a very emotional speech especially when he spoke about the tragic events of 9/11 and all the Irish names he mentioned," said Crowley."It was also emotional when he mentioned the Irish peace process and how far Ireland has come. The most dramatic statement from today was when the taoiseach announced, 'Ireland is at peace.' What an accomplishment? He can take a great deal of credit for the stability and advancement of Ireland in his 11 years as taoiseach."Ahern presented the chairman of the organization, Congressman Richie Neal with a sword, donated by the City of Waterford, in honor of young Irish leader Thomas Francis Meagher who was well known in the U.S. for his time with the Fighting 69 during the Civil War.Loretta Brennan Glucksman, president of the American Ireland Fund, traveled from New York to Washington to hear Ahern's speech. Afterwards she told reporters that she was extremely proud. "It was a great speech on its face and the subtlety he brought to it. It was a very moving and thorough," she said.Ahern, who is a regular in Washington on St. Patrick's Day, was invited to attend a private meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House in the afternoon. His daughter Cecelia, her partner David Keoghan, his sister Kathleen and her two children accompanied the taoiseach. Ahern also met with U.S. envoy to the North Paula Dobriansky and the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley. That evening he was guest of honor at a reception hosted by Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Collins.On Thursday, Ahern attended a lunch at the Boston College Club jointly hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA. That afternoon he addressed the John F. Kennedy junior forum at Harvard University in Boston where he spoke in depth about the importance of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty. "We want the European Union to be able to manage its affairs more effectively and to be able to play a more meaningful role in world affairs," he said.On Friday, Ahern traveled to Boston where he delivered a speech at the Kennedy Library in Massachusetts. Senator Edward Kennedy, who introduced Ahern, praised the Irish leader for his role in the "long lasting" peace process and told the audience that Ahern still has "much more to give to heal our divided world." Kennedy and Senator Chris Dodd have lent their names to a senate resolution, which suggest that Ahern should consider a position as peace envoy in other countries following his achievements in the North.Ahern, who also met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Thursday, announced that the Irish government is giving $2 million to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in an effort to support projects related to Ireland and the U.S.Ahern's legacy came to an end on Tuesday when he handed his resignation to President Mary McAlesse. He is succeeded by his Finance Minister Brian Cowen.
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