THE British secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, spoke with editors of the Monitor May 23 in Boston prior to traveling to a White House-sponsored economic development conference on Northern Ireland in Washington, D.C. Edited excerpts of Mr. Mayhew's remarks to the Monitor follow:
Is too much being made of the fact that you're meeting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at the economic development conference in Washington?
It gives me a chance to make the point that Sinn Fein have a major contribution they can make to trade and investment in Northern Ireland. And that is to establish beyond doubt that peace is there to stay, because confidence in that is a great help to investment.
What is the state of US-British relations regarding the issue of Northern Ireland?
Both governments have shown courage, both governments have taken risks to help the people of Northern Ireland break free from their history and develop for themselves a new beginning....
I think things President Clinton has been saying could have been said perfectly well by the Prime Minister [John Major] or by [Irish Prime Minister John] Bruton.
There is a commonality of approach which is very good. We went through a time when we had a couple of spats ... but that's long behind.
There's a feeling that the nationalist position is better represented in the US and is more influential in lobbying the White House. Why is that?
The central thing about the American administration's policy is this, I think: It recognizes, with the Irish government and our own, that it's going to be the principle of democracy that's going to decide the future of Northern Ireland, constitutionally....