There is a strong likelihood of new trade and political missions to the North in the wake of the Stormont House Agreement, Sinn Féin MLA Martin McGuinness has said.
Mr McGuinness was speaking after a short visit to the US this week during which he attended President Barack Obama’s ‘State of the Union’ address in Washington and met with key figures on Capitol Hill and in New York.
Martin McGuinness said:
“I was honoured to be invited to the State of the Union address by Congressman Richard Neal who has been an influential and hugely supportive figure since the very early days of the Irish peace process.
“Successive US administrations have been pivotal in terms of the progress we have made away from a very bitter and protracted conflict. Countless other individuals, lobby groups and organisations have also payed a crucial role. And of course in the most recent negotiation, the influence of Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator Gary Hart was a crucial factor in securing the deal which built on the excellent work done by Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan 12 months previously.
“I was very glad of the opportunity to again record our appreciation for those efforts and the ongoing support shown by both the administration and ordinary citizens in the United States. That support has been vital, particularly at times of crisis, and I believe the US will continue to play a key role as we now move to the implementation of the agreement.
“It was also very clear from the course of my discussions that there is still a very strong interest in the US and over the next short while, there is a strong possibility of new trade and political missions to the north, including a visit by potential investors to Derry and Belfast.”
Mr McGuinness also stressed that America remains keen to help build peace and prosperity in Ireland.
He said: “Everywhere I went this week, I was met with open doors and a willingness to continue playing an active role in the peace process.
“I met with many members of Congress and the Senate, the State Department and other key figures in both Washington and New York. The consistent message was that they all wanted to help in any way they could, both in terms of the peace process and attracting more foreign direct investment to Ireland.
“That enduring commitment to Ireland speaks volumes, particularly at a time when there are so many competing priorities across the globe and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the US in weeks, months and years ahead.”