Mitchell Predicts Peace

Northern Irish setback temporary, he says

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Former Senate Majority Leader George L. Mitchell predicted a peaceful solution to Northern Ireland's political strife, and offered a vote of confidence for the construction of a new Fenway Park during his talk at the Boston College Chief Executives Club on March 9.

Mitchell, chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Negotiating Committee that brokered the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, told the 250 business leaders attending the Boston Harbor Hotel event that the recent suspension of the new unified government in Northern Ireland might only be temporary.

"The overwhelming majority of people in Ireland long for peace and stability," he said. "The Irish people are sick of war, sick of conflict. I believe they will eventually see their way through the quest for peace."

Mitchell later told reporters that "the people of Ireland do not want to return to the bitterness of the past" and the nation's recent economic progress will be a catalyst for future political harmony.

"Democracy is difficult," he said. "You have to make your way through it. I know they want to get this done, and they will."

Mitchell, who spent five years working towards peace in Northern Ireland, said that his dream is to someday bring his young son on a visit to that land . That journey, he said, would include a visit to a new seat of government, where "there will be no talk of war, because war will have been long since past. And there will be no talk of peace, because peace will be taken for granted.

"On that day, I will be completely and totally fulfilled," he said.

The former US Senator from Maine is also serving as a member of Major League Baseball's Blue Ribbon Panel on Economics, which is preparing recommendations on the financial health and stability of the national pastime. As part of that effort, he supports the construction of a new Fenway Park in Boston.

Mitchell said that a strong economic base is the key to keeping the sport competitive as well as affordable to fans. "Attendance is limited by the size of a team's facility," he said. "The Red Sox need to attract a million more people a year to remain profitable."

George Mitchell speaks at the March 9
CEO Club meeting.
While Mitchell conceded that there is some opposition to the use of public funding to construct a sports facility for a privately-owned team, he expressed hope for a strong community effort "to demonstrate intelligence and foresight and move forward" on the project.

"Northern Ireland was easy next to this," he quipped.

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