George Bush to David Cameron: don’t derail Northern Ireland peace process

Former president urges Cameron to rein in Unionist partners

Nicholas Watt
The Guardian
9 March 2010

The former US president George Bush has made a direct plea to David Cameron to support the Northern Ireland peace process, amid widespread concern in the US about the Tories’ new electoral pact with the Ulster Unionists.

In his most active intervention since leaving the White House, Bush took the rare step of calling the Conservative leader to ask him to use his influence to press his unionist partners to endorse the final stages of the 15-year search for a settlement.

The intervention by Bush, in a telephone call last Friday, appeared to have failed last night when the Ulster Unionist party confirmed that it would vote against the devolution of policing and criminal justice powers to Belfast.

The unanimous decision by the party executive means that the once mighty UUP, which governed Northern Ireland until direct rule was imposed in 1972, will be the only member of the four-party power sharing executive that will vote no today. The Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein, which brokered the agreement on policing last month, will join the SDLP in voting for the deal…

…The Guardian understands that the White House is so concerned that the US economic envoy to Northern Ireland, Declan Kelly, persuaded Bush to intervene. The former president, who took a close interest in the peace process during his years in the White House, telephoned Cameron to ask him to use his influence to persuade Empey to vote for the deal.

“There was a feeling that a conservative to conservative conversation was the right way to go about this,” said one source familiar with the transatlantic negotiations…

The article continues at The Guardian.

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