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Remarks at U.S.-Northern Ireland Investment Conference Gala Dinner

Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
Belfast, Northern Ireland
May 8, 2008

Prime Minister Brown, Taoiseach, Foreign Minister Martin, First Minister, Lady Paisley, Deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, CEOs and business executives, distinguished guests. Welcome.

Thank you, Minister Dodds, for your steadfast dedication to organizing this extremely impressive and results-oriented business investment conference. It has been my great pleasure to work with you over the months towards this goal – and with First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, without whose hard work, vision, and strong, united leadership this event would not be possible. Congratulations to Steve Kingon, Leslie Morrison, and Invest Northern Ireland, for all your efforts and commitment to ensuring the success of this program.

Prime Minister Brown and Taoiseach: thank you for honoring us with your participation. We are deeply grateful for the steadfast partnership throughout the years with London and Dublin in working together to bring peace and stability to the people of Northern Ireland, and to give them the opportunity they so richly deserve to grow their economy and compete in the global marketplace. Your personal engagement in this process, and that of your predecessors, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, have been absolutely essential to this success, and we applaud you for your collaborative efforts.

I am delighted to join you as the head of the U.S. Presidential Delegation, and to introduce our delegation members: The Honorable Robert H. Tuttle, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom; The Honorable Thomas C. Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland; The Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York -- we are delighted that the Mayor has brought a high-level distinguished delegation with him, including Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, William Thompson, the New York City Comptroller, and Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey -- David Scott, President & CEO, 3PAR Inc.; and Catherine Brune, Senior Vice President and CIO, Allstate Insurance Company. We are also joined by our U.S. Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tevi Troy.

President Bush has been a strong and enthusiastic supporter of the effort to promote prosperity and security for Northern Ireland right from the very start. He knows that an investment in Northern Ireland is an investment in peace. He knows that Northern Ireland’s diversity is a tremendous asset, and is confident in the ability of all its people to unite across communities to work together to realize their tremendous potential.

The President welcomed First Minister Paisley and Deputy First Minister McGuinness to the White House last year to thank them for their courage, vision, and leadership in building common ground to govern together for the good of the people of Northern Ireland.

I, too, would like to pay tribute to the First and Deputy First Ministers for their willingness to take risks and break new ground for the benefit of future generations. They are truly remarkable Ambassadors for Northern Ireland, representing the best of its potential.

In preparing for this Conference, we worked with Minister Dodds, Invest NI, and the First and Deputy First Ministers to organize two investment missions to bring U.S. companies to Belfast to learn about the opportunities here. The first, in October 2007, was led by Ambassador Robert Tuttle in London, and Ambassador Tom Foley in Dublin with some 20 companies and their CEOs and representatives participating.

I led the second mission in February 2008 with Robert Mosbacher, the President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Treasury Attaché Barbara C. Matthews.

The executives who joined us for these two missions saw today’s Northern Ireland firsthand -- and liked what they saw. Marriott announced in February of this year it will build a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in the city center at Belfast's former gasworks. CyberSource announced yesterday plans to establish a research and development center. Independent Media Group will increase its resources and operations in Northern Ireland. Bombardier, too, is expanding its workforce. Bloomberg News will open a new office in Belfast, and the New York Stock Exchange will expand its Northern Ireland operations of Wombat Financial Software, creating an additional 75-100 jobs. And thanks to the First and Deputy First Minister’s outreach to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Comptroller William Thompson, the City of New York has decided to invest $150 million in pension funds in infrastructure development – a significant vote of confidence that Northern Ireland is open for business.

Northern Ireland is, indeed, “open for business.” It is a message that I, as Special Envoy, will continue to spread. We remain solidly committed to supporting Northern Ireland’s leaders in building a truly inclusive society that embraces and celebrates its diversity.

We urge Northern Ireland’s leaders, and its people, to build on the tremendous progress you have made by completing the process of devolution of justice, and finding ways to build on the goodwill that now exists among the different communities in Northern Ireland.

We hope that this conference, and the investments that are generated, will help reinforce this unity, which is essential to realizing Northern Ireland’s full potential. We are pleased that we have had a wide range of representatives at this conference from throughout Northern Ireland.

Every community in Northern Ireland has something special to offer to investors, and every community can benefit from investment.

We know that our work together has not ended. In fact, we seek to build on this great start, and do more. We are gathering new partners and bringing additional forces of commerce and industry to our goal. We are building on the critical ties between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that have long existed in the business community. And, together, we can show the world that Northern Ireland has, once and for all, turned a page on the past, and is moving rapidly toward a very bright future. Thank you.

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