- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

Ireland’s ‘true friend’

The retirement of members of the U.S. Congress usually goes unnoticed in the capitals of Europe, but not in Dublin, especially when a “true friend” of Ireland who helped bring peace between Catholics and Protestants in Ulster steps down.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern may not be related but they sounded like twins in their praise of Rep. James T. Walsh, New York Republican.

The prime minister called Mr. Walsh a “true friend of Ireland’s,” while the foreign minister called him a “great friend” of the Emerald Isle.

Mr. Walsh, who will retire at the end of this term after 20 years in the House, accepted the praise modestly.

“I did my best. I fought the good fight,” he said.

Mr. Walsh, as a member of the House Friends of Ireland caucus, helped end decades of religious conflicts in the six counties of Ulster that remained part of Britain. Four years ago, he arranged to include Gerry Adams, leader of the political front of the Irish Republican Army, to march in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade after Mr. Adams renounced violence as a means to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

Dermot Ahern praised Mr. Walsh for the “outstanding role he played in the Northern Ireland peace process and in the deepening of U.S.-Irish relations.”

The prime minister added, “Jim is part of a long and proud tradition of great Irish-Americans, and we will miss his presence on Capitol Hill.”

He recalled visiting Mr. Walsh in his boyhood home of Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, N.Y., and “seeing a little bit of America that will forever be Irish.”

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

Bishop Artemije, spiritual leader of Christian Serbs in Kosovo. He meets with administration officials and members of Congress to discuss the future of the majority ethnic-Albanian province in Serbia. He will also be a guest on the Don Kroah Show, a Christian radio talk show, at 5:15 p.m. on WAVA 105.1 FM.

Arash Sigarchi, an Iranian dissident and blog journalist frequently jailed by the Iranian regime. He participates in an American Enterprise Institute forum on the use of cyberspace to bring reform in the Middle East.

Tomorrow

• The Most Rev. Jaime Pedro Goncalves, Mozambique’s archbishop of Beira and apostolic administrator of Quelimane. He speaks at Georgetown University.

Wednesday

Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki of Macedonia, who addresses the German Marshall Fund of the United States about his country’s goal of joining NATO and the European Union.

Miguel Vargas, vice president of the Dominican Revolutionary Party and a candidate for president of the Dominican Republic. He addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

Salome Zurabishvili, former foreign minister of the Republic of Georgia and now leader of the Georgia’s Way Party. She testifies before the congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe at 2:30 p.m. in Room B-318 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Thursday

Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico. He addresses the annual conference of the World Affairs Councils of America.

Chakib Khelil, president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and minister of energy and mines of Algeria. He addresses the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Friday

Sibghatullah Al-Mojaddedi, chairman of the Upper House of the Afghan parliament and former president of the Islamic Interim Government of Afghanistan. He addresses the United States Institute of Peace.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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