- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leaders in Britain and Ireland remembered Sen. Edward M. Kennedy Wednesday for his efforts in the long process that led to Northern Ireland’s 1998 Good Friday peace accord.

“America has lost a great and respected statesman and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend,” said Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Mr. Kennedy “a true public servant committed to the values of fairness, justice and opportunity.”

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“I saw his focus and determination firsthand in Northern Ireland, where his passionate commitment was matched with a practical understanding of what needed to be done to bring about peace and to sustain it,” Mr. Blair said. “I was delighted he could join us in Belfast the day devolved government was restored. My thoughts and prayers today are with all his family and friends as they reflect on the loss of a great and good man.”

Irish President Mary McAleese said Mr. Kennedy would be remembered “as a hugely important friend to this country during the very difficult times.”

Check out more video coverage of Sen. Kennedy, here.

“His death will be greeted with a great sense of sadness here because of his long-standing affection for this country, not just with the peace process, but on many other issues, including emigration,” she said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that, “even facing illness and death, he never stopped fighting.”

Mr. Kennedy urged Britain to negotiate with the Irish Republican Army-linked Sinn Fein party while reaching out to Protestant Unionists.

“He lived to see two great chasms bridged, between Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland and between black and white in his own United States,” the Associated Press quoted former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern as saying.

Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year awarded Mr. Kennedy with an honorary knighthood.

Click here to see a timeline of Mr. Kennedy’s life.

Mr. Kennedy played a key behind-the-scenes role in persuading President Clinton to allow Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, to visit the U.S. in the early 1990s.

The gamble helped lead to a 1994 cease-fire and later to the Good Friday accord.

The deal began to fray when the IRA was blamed for the world’s largest bank robbery, money laundering and the killing of a Catholic man, Robert McCartney, in Belfast. Mr. Kennedy responded in 2005 by refusing to meet Mr. Adams during a visit to the U.S.

The embarrassment of losing Mr. Kennedy’s support, other high-profile snubs and the prospect of losing Irish-American backing pushed Sinn Fein to re-embrace the peace process.

Mr. Kennedy’s death Tuesday night at age 77 also brought an outpouring of condolences from political leaders in other parts of the world.

Check out the Washington Times interactive Remembering Senator Edward M. Kennedy

In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Mr. Kennedy “made an extraordinary contribution to American politics, an extraordinary contribution to America’s role in the world.”

“Ted Kennedy was a great American, a great Democrat, but also a great friend of Australia. … Whatever the color of the U.S. administration, at any time, whatever the color politically of the Australian government at any time, Ted Kennedy was always a friend of Australia.”

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said the country has always had an appreciation for Mr. Kennedy, “who left his mark in the fight for civil rights and who represented the values of democracy and liberty.”

Achmat Dangor, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa, said of Mr. Kennedy:

“He made his voice heard in the struggle against apartheid at a time when the freedom struggle was not widely supported in the West.”

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