He also said he hoped power-sharing in Northern Ireland could be restored, but he knew, at the time of the deal, that there would be problems to be resolved in the future. George Mitchell led the discussions that led to the 1998 peace agreement. A senior Irish government official spoke for a lot when he told me that there would have been no peace agreement on Good Friday in 1998 without George Mitchell as director. One hesitates to speculate on possible alternatives: perhaps a time server among the great and the good British, who would have no chance of winning the trust of the Irish nationalists. Alternatively, there may have been someone from America or continental Europe who was acceptable to nationalists, but who did not have the dignity, charm, and diplomatic abilities to convince the unionists that he was an honest broker. Finally, Mitchell calls on negotiators to have the courage to involve all parties at the negotiating table in order to ensure a generally acceptable agreement. All parties to the conflict must be duly represented. I first met Mitchell during President Clinton`s first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995. Clinton organized a seminar on social and economic development in the Protestant center of East Belfast. Mitchell was his economic adviser for Ireland and seemed to be the youngest of a series of well-meaning external destroyers who plunged and immersed themselves in the Irish situation without noticeable effects. But I still remember the speech he gave that day: his sincere affection for the people of both communities in Northern Ireland was evident, even to someone like me, whose profession leads him to be skeptical of political figures.

He also said the more American businessmen could be alerted to talent and skills in Northern Ireland, the better. He did not, however, ask them to participate in an act of charity, but to “make a peremptory decision in their own economic interest.” “The day I announced the deal, I said it was a historic feat – which it was. But I also said that day that the agreement did not in itself guarantee peace, political stability or reconciliation. There would be difficult decisions for other leaders, and there were some….