Below is the text of the comments made by Senator George Mitchell after the confirmation of his appointment to chair a body to assist peace in Northern Ireland. The comments were made at Heathrow Airport in London on 29th November 1995.
Senator, can you tell us exactly what your mission now will be, what are you trying to accomplish?
Well, I’m pleased to accept the invitation of the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to chair an international body to assist in the process of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
The communique issued by the two Prime Ministers gave the international body a specific mandate and a time frame. And it will, of course, involve the issue that’s come to be known as decommissioning. And I hope that we can make some contribution to the process.
I think the Prime Ministers of both countries, Prime Minister Major and Prime Minister Bruton, and all of the parties deserve a great deal of credit for the perseverance and the courage they’ve shown in moving this process to this point. And we hope we can help in that effort.
How difficult a task would you say it is?
I think it will be difficult because it’s obviously an issue on which there are strongly held feelings on all sides, and has been candidly substantial disagreement. But I think there is an historic opportunity here, which all much recognize as the overriding objective, a chance to see the lasting peace in Northern Ireland, I think is so important that I hope all parties will agree that we have to move forward.
Is your mission to speak with all parties in this —
Yes, my intention is to consult as widely as possible, to invite comments and recommendations from as many interested parties who want to participate and go through them all as fairly as open-mindedly as is possible.
The time frame seems very short, though. You do have until, what, the end of —
Well, it’s the middle of January we’re asked to report. It is a relatively short time. But if we get right to it, as I intend that we will, and all parties participate in a prompt and effective way, I hope we can meet that objective.
Thank you all very much.