Ahern Thanks Press For Telling Story Of Ireland's Peace Process

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6.9.03 - Press Association

The story of Ireland's peace process has inspired troubled areas across the world, Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said today.

By: Press Association

The Taoiseach thanked the international press for keeping Irish communities everywhere informed about developments in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to more than a 1,000 media chiefs at the 56th World Newspaper Congress in Dublin, Mr Ahern said: "The story of Ireland's peace efforts has been covered across the world.

"It is a positive story of vision and courage which has also given inspiration to other troubled locations."

He said the gap that still had to be closed was narrow in relation to the one that had already been bridged. But he added: "It is a vital gap and one that cannot be left open.

"It is proving difficult to get the commitments now required to ensure trust and confidence among the parties. "Elections have been postponed. Frustration is evident and understandable."

Mr Ahern said the people of Northern Ireland would benefit greatly from overcoming these difficulties in terms of economic stability and increased investment. He said the Irish government remained "100% committed" to the task of helping the political parties out of the current impasse.

"We greatly appreciate the role that the international media has played in ensuring that Ireland's extensive communities in other countries have remained informed about developments in Ireland particularly in relation to the peace process," he said. "Indeed the support of the Irish abroad has been an enormous boost to our efforts."

Mr Ahern was addressing newspaper delegates from 88 countries as they began a three-day conference addressing the role of newspapers in society. He said newspapers were the "fabric" of Ireland's culture and that they contributed enormously to the civic life of a society. The premier voiced his support for Irish rock star Bono, who also addressed the gathering.

"Bono has been an eloquent and effective advocate of the need for a fairer relationship between rich and poor countries," Mr Ahern said. "We in Ireland applaud his successful efforts in raising the conscience of the world on global inequality, injustice and the scourge of Aids."

U2 frontman Bono addressed the conference wearing his trademark hat and dark glasses. He told editors that celebrities and the media needed each other and thanked the press for helping highlight his causes.

"When it comes to the work I do in Africa the newspapers have always been there for me," he said. "I am here to thank you for helping me."

The singer has used his fame to generate media coverage of poverty and Aids. He has won numerous awards for his efforts, including the Legion d'Honneur from the French Government this year. Bono urged delegates at the conference to use their power to help causes such as the inequality between rich and poor countries.

"I am tough but you are the toughest and that has something to do with the power you have in your headlines," he told them. "It is an amazing thing."

He said he had no complaints about media coverage of him and spoke of a tabloid story telling of "Bono's Boozy night with Frank Sinatra".

"Sadly that was true," he said.

He said his only complaint was that one newspaper put a picture of his rear on its front page.

"It was an appalling invasion of my privacy," he said. "I objected to the wide-angle lens which I felt gave the wrong impression."

The World Newspaper Congress and the World Editors' Forum will be addressed by a number of guests over the next three days. They will cover topics such as press freedom and the art of survival of newspapers.

Copyright © 2003 Press Association. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on June 9, 2003 3:04 AM.

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