Irish President sworn in for second term

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The Independent Online

The Irish President Mary McAleese pledged to make North-South community bonding a major theme of her next seven years in office as she was sworn in for a second term yesterday

Ms McAleese, a 53-year-old former law lecturer from Northern Ireland, became the fourth president to serve a second term. She stood unopposed for the largely ceremonial position. Ms McAleese attended a ceremony in Dublin Castle to be sworn in by the Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Murray.

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern introduced her as a President who, in her first seven-year term, represented Ireland internationally "with sophistication, with flair and with distinction". Mr Ahern praised her work, in particular, in bringing together Catholic and Protestant community workers from Northern Ireland. "There are many people present here today and across this island who can testify to the fact that yours has been a truly healing presidency. You have used your office in an imaginative and courageous manner to foster reconciliation and build a climate where people can cut loose from the wrenching conflicts of the past," Mr Ahern said.

In her acceptance address, Ms McAleese reflected that when she became President in 1997, in Northern Ireland "the bridge of peace was a structure in the making. Today more and more people than ever before are committed to its construction, more and more peacemakers. And the once immense gulf of mistrust has been reduced now to one last step."