After an eleven-week series of peace talks in Northern Ireland that ended in an overnight 30-hour session, the Irish and British governments reached an agreement, satisfactory for everyone involved. President Obama issued a public statement from Hawaii after the breakthrough on Tuesday, praising the deal and congratulating the leaders involved.
“I and Vice President Biden welcome the news from Belfast this morning that the political parties of Northern Ireland, together with the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland, have reached a broad agreement that paves the way for the continuation of Northern Ireland’s governing institutions,” President Obama said.
“Just as importantly, the agreement also enables further progress on dealing with the issues of the past.”
The agreement, known as the Stormont House Agreement, contains 75 sections dealing with a range of issues remaining from the peace process, including the question of flags, parades, budget concerns and the legacy of The Troubles. British Prime Minister David Cameron refers to it as "a financial package that opens the way for more prosperity, stability and economic security for Northern Ireland.”
Cameron has pledged to support the Stormont government with close to $3.1 billion for a number of new initiatives, including $777.5m for cross-community education initiatives, $1bn for public sector reform, and $233m for a new institution to investigate the legacy of the Troubles and the treatment of victims and unsolved crimes from 1969 onwards.
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny also said he commends everyone involved for their progress.
“I commend the parties for their courage in reaching this agreement. Its full implementation will mean that the people of Northern Ireland can look to that brighter future together, with hope and confidence.
“The Irish government will fully support the Northern Ireland executive as it takes this important work forward,” he said.
Northern Ireland's Secretary Theresa Villiers said that with the agreement's ratification, corporation tax powers could devolve to Northern Ireland in January.
“I congratulate all the leaders involved who, once again, have shown that when there is a will and the courage to overcome the issues that have divided the people of Northern Ireland, there is a way to succeed for the benefit of all,” Obama said.
“I look forward to the final ratification of this agreement by all the relevant parties, and to the continued advancement of a peace process that is leading to a better future for the people of Northern Ireland,” he added.
Former US senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart was also appointed by the United States to help Ireland and the UK reach common ground. He left for Stormont at the end of October and returned earlier this month.
“I also want to thank Gary Hart for his hard work in support of this agreement,” Obama concluded.
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of the Stormont government, both expressed satisfaction with the deal as well.
“We're proud of our achievement; I think it is remarkable that we managed against all odds, when people told us it couldn't be done to achieve this in the interests of [vulnerable] people. I think that is something to be proud of,” said McGuinness.