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Peace Process (Ministerial Discussions)

Volume 502: debated on Wednesday 16 December 2009

6. What recent discussions he has had with the US Secretary of State on the peace process in Northern Ireland. (306255)

Does the Secretary of State fully appreciate the support of the Conservative party for the tremendous efforts of the Americans, and particularly the Clinton Administration, in keeping the peace process on track? Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Northern Ireland, does he anticipate further economic investment there?

The people of Northern Ireland are extremely grateful for the investment that has been made by the United States, which has allowed several hundred new jobs to be created this year in Northern Ireland despite the international recession. The decision by Secretary of State Clinton to create a special economic envoy, Declan Kelly, meant that only last week, 14 top American companies made presentations to the Administration in Northern Ireland looking at investment for next year. Secretary Clinton and President Obama have made it clear that their support will be as unstinting and relentless as that of Presidents Bush and Clinton before them.

What work is being undertaken by the Northern Ireland Office further to integrate the areas across the divide in Northern Ireland, particularly in social housing? What is the NIO doing to remove the dreadful physical barriers that divide the two communities?

My hon. Friend will know that many of those matters have now of course been devolved. However, I simply say this to him: established in the Good Friday agreement and endorsed in the St. Andrews agreement were the principles of equality and justice for everybody in Northern Ireland, regardless of faith and geography, to ensure that they enjoy shared power and a shared future that is fair.