“Well, Mr. President, our first words on that — (inaudible)..”

As I suggested previously, the meeting between the Northern Ireland Executive’s First and deputy First Ministers and President Bush seems to have been as much to do with certain parties thanking him for the US’s active role here as pleading for financial assistance. The BBC report mentions in passing the meeting with head of the National Security Council, Stephen Hadley.. but we don’t have the transcript of what might have been discussed. UTV, however, just screened the media appearance of the three, seated, talking amongst themselves.. and I’ll add that footage if it goes online.. in the meantime Reuters has the transcript of that moment. [Perhaps President Bush heard about certain beliefs? – Ed] Photo via Voice of America. Adds In the comments zone, Nevin points to the White House transcript and the video [Windows media player]The transcript.

WASHINGTON–(Business Wire)–Oval Office

1:49 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT BUSH: One of the great experiences for me during my presidency is to witness historic occasions, and I’m witnessing such an occasion with the arrival of Reverend Paisley and Mr. Martin McGuinness here to the White House. These two men are — have dedicated themselves to embettering their — Northern Ireland through their courage and conviction and desire to put aside the past and focus on a hopeful future.

And so I want to welcome you all here. I congratulate you for seizing the moment, and writing a hopeful chapter. I’m looking forward to hearing about how the United States can help Northern Ireland move forward. I know one way we can help, and that is to encourage our business leaders to take a good look at the economic opportunities that Northern Ireland presents.

And so I welcome you here. I’m proud of your accomplishments. And I welcome you all to say a few comments to the TV, if you care to do so.

FIRST MINISTER PAISLEY: Well, Mr. President, our first words on that — (inaudible), we want to say from the people of Northern Ireland: Thank you. Thank you to the American people for all they have done for us in the past. We did a lot for you in the past, too.

PRESIDENT BUSH: That’s right. (Laughter.)

FIRST MINISTER PAISLEY: But what I can say is we deeply appreciate that. And we also deeply appreciate the fact that we’re here today, and that you have met us, and have tried to encourage us on this. We have had our political squabbles and fights. I think we have come to the end of that. I think that peace has come, there will be a fight for peace. You don’t win peace, you have to fight to keep it.

PRESIDENT BUSH: That’s right.

FIRST MINISTER PAISLEY: (Inaudible) that. We’re dedicated to that. But we do need help in the economic field. And we’re glad that the door has opened. We have had a very good reception in your country so far, and of course (inaudible) and when we look back and see this mighty army that’s following hard in your tracks we know that this is your final — and we say thank you, and we look forward to good dealings between our little country and yours in the coming days.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir. Martin.

DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: Can I, too, reiterate the comments of the First Minister in expressing our deepest thanks and appreciation to you and your administration for the tremendous help that we have received throughout the course of the process; follows on from the tradition of President Clinton and his administration.

So we’re hugely appreciative of both of you for all of the tremendous support that we have received. Up until the 26th of March this year, Ian Paisley and I never could accomplish anything about anything — (laughter) — not even about the (inaudible). And now we have worked very closely together over the course of the last seven months, and there hasn’t been an angry word between us. [not even about the weather]


DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: So I think that that clearly shows that we are set for a new course. There is peace and stability. We have transformed the political situation. What we now need to do, as you have correctly identified, is transform the economic situation so that we can give our young people, in particular, a better future.

I am confident that we can do that, and with the tremendous assistance we’ve received here in the United States, and particularly working towards the economic investment conference in May, the future looks greater than it ever has in the course of Irish history.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sir.

END 1:53 P.M. EST

White House Press Office

Copyright Business Wire 2007

“You don’t win peace, you have to fight to keep it..”

Indeed. Or, at the risk of repeating myself, indeed.

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  • Mark McGregor

    So weird. I remember SF being against this war-mongering religious fundamentalist.

  • smcgiff

    ‘So weird. I remember SF being against this war-mongering religious fundamentalist.’

    Yeah, but now they’re working in the same office everything is fine. 😉

  • Nevin
  • Nevin
  • Rory

    Bull’s-eye, McGiff! 10/10. I’m still chortling.

  • Wilde Rover

    “and we look forward to good dealings between our little country and yours in the coming days.”

    It sounds like he’s referring to foreign relations between sovereign nations.

    Has Northern Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom? Should he be referred to as Prime Minister now?

    It would be delightfully ironic if he were declaring a NI republic on a visit to North America. John A. Costello would have approved, I’m sure.

    Or maybe it was just a Freudian slip. Perhaps the role of the Big Chief causes attrition to even the most vehemently held unionist beliefs.

  • Nevin
  • Oiliféar

    Wilde Rover, hear George pull back from the use of the word ‘country’? (“These two men have dedicated themselves to embettering their … [ummm] … Northern Ireland.” Of course ’embettering’ isn’t a word, but ironic how close it is to ’embittering’.)

    Praise to Paisley for holding back on “Our little country.” For a moment my heart stopped as I though he had said, “Our wee country.” Of course in a hopeful nationalist reading he could be referring to Ireland as a whole!

  • GavBelfast

    I have to say I think it was a really touching set-piece: a real apple-pie, Yankee Candle moment.

    Just lovely.

  • [Perhaps President Bush heard about certain beliefs? – Ed]
    I liked this quote on the “certain beliefs” I read on another blog, possibly the BBC.
    “My God these people are watching the Flintstones and think its a documentary”

  • heck

    I wonder if they told bush they oppose his torturing of prisoners.


    Paisely supported torture by special branch
    Martin supported torture by the nutting squad
    The british had “extra ordinary rendition” to their spies in the various paramilitaries

    all torturers together

    honest tony and the labour party can find some wog to lecture about human rights

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Picked up by the mikes before going live…

    PRESIDENT BUSH: Martin, whatever you do, don’t mention the war.


    FIRST MINISTER PAISLEY: Now, now – that counts as republican collusion.

  • “Washington Nationals to play at new Maze Stadium”

    That stadium appears to be actually in the city’s environs…
    Ian Jr is joining the “Stadium for Belfast” campaign?
    Now if he could only recommend us a developer to get the wheels in motion…

  • realst

    I hope martin enjoyed his honourable shame /fame
    with the other 2 liers.
    My god hasn`t he come such a long way, worked so hard and had the COURAGE AND VISION to grasp the opportunity in bringing us to this lovely tranquil place.
    Were most of his visions not delivered by his LONGTIME friends in the british secret service.
    To talk of his concerns for the future welfare of our young ones. i can only imagine how comforting his words are to the Quinn family tonight If he had any understanding of the meaning of truth, would so many of my generation gone to their grave or cells.Hard to take in, he still believes no one`s on to him. It will come in time when he has to explain his actions and that of others about COLLUSION without the comfort of the old rant (you`d need to talk to the IRA about that)
    What a legacy to pass down.