Senator George Mitchell's concluding report

This is the full text of Senator George Mitchell's speech in Belfast:

This is the full text of Senator George Mitchell's speech in Belfast:

I indicated in my last statement on November 15 that I expected to be in a position to issue a concluding report on the Review soon after the publication of the assessment on the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD) and of the parties' positions on the issues which we have been considering together in the review.

Those steps have now been taken. Together they represent a set of extremely positive developments. I welcome the statements from the parties, which should further build mutual confidence in each other's commitment to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to the three principles as agreed on 25 June, namely:

An inclusive Executive exercising devolved powers;

Decommissioning of all paramilitary arms by May 2000;

Decommissioning to be carried out in a manner determined by the IICD.

I also welcome the IICD assessment of how it can best achieve the mandate under the Agreement. I share its conclusion that:

Decommissioning is by definition a voluntary act and cannot be imposed. To bring decommissioning about, the Commission will need the cooperation and support of the political parties, using all the influence they have, together with the wholehearted commitment of paramilitary organisations.

While decommissioning is an essential element of the Agreement, the context in which it can be achieved is the overall implementation of that Agreement. All participants have a collective responsibility in this regard.

Not long ago, the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein did not speak directly.

In the early weeks of the review, their exchanges were harsh and filled with recrimination. But gradually, as one of them put it, "trust crept in".

It may not be trust yet, but it's an important start, and the discussions did become serious and meaningful.

For that credit goes to the leaders, David Trimble and Sir Reg Empey; and Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. They, and the other leaders of their parties, set aside their hostility for the good of their society.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party, led by John Hume and Seamus Mallon, provided crucial insight and involvement. It will play an important role in the Executive.

The leaders of the other pro-Agreement parties were strongly supportive: Sean Neeson and Seamus Close of Alliance, David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson of the Progressive Unionist Party, Monica McWilliams and Jane Morrice of the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition, and Gary McMichael and David Adams of the Ulster Democratic Party; and all of their colleagues.

They and their parties were essential to the Good Friday Agreement. They are indispensable to its full implementation. It cannot and will not be done without them.

The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, and President Clinton, played important roles in this effort, as did Mo Mowlam, David Andrews and Liz O'Donnell.

The new Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson, is a strong and effective leader who, in a short time, has had an enormous positive impact.

I also would like to recognise two superb officials, Bill Jeffrey for the British, and Dermot Gallagher for the Irish. With their colleagues, they provided me with invaluable assistance, for which they have my gratitude.

As a result of all of these efforts, neither side will get all it wanted and both will endure severe political pain.

But there is no other way forward. Prolonging the stalemate will leave this society uncertain and vulnerable.

If this process succeeds, the real winners will be the people, who want their political leaders to work out their differences through democratic dialogue.

I have been involved in this effort for nearly five years. I cannot say that I've enjoyed every minute of it.

But while on occasion it has been difficult, it has also been one of the most meaningful times of my life.

I am totally committed to the cause of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

And I can say that the longer I've been here the more I have come to admire and like and believe in the people.

They're energetic and productive, warm and generous. I have been treated here as though I were at home.

In a sense I am at home, because my emotions and a part of my heart will be here forever, even though I will not always be physically present.

My thanks to you ladies and gentlemen of the press for your courtesy, to the Prime Minister and Taoiseach for inviting me to take part in this process, to the party leaders with whom I have spent these past few months and who I respect for their courage, and, finally, to the people for their warmth and hospitality.

I hope to return often, in other capacities. My fervent prayer is that it will be to a society in which hope and opportunity are alive and where a durable peace, tolerance and mutual respect are not distant dreams, but rather are the reality of daily life for all of the people.

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice