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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 26 November, 2014

Bertie Ahern: ‘Suffering in the North did lead us to a good position’

Ahern was speaking as President Michael D Higgins made a historic State visit to the UK.

Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

FORMER IRISH TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has spoken of the importance of today’s State visit by President Michael D Higgins to the UK.

He said that a lot of the suffering in the North on both sides during the Troubles “did lead us to a good position”.

On BBC Radio 5 Live, Ahern spoke of meeting many of the groups of people who were affected by the Troubles during his 11 years as Taoiseach.

These included: “The families of British soldiers, people who were in the then RUC, now the PSNI, and from the various communities of Nationalist, Unionist, Republican, Loyalist [people] in Northern Ireland”.

Of the peace process, he said that he salutes “all of those people who have been so good at not always of course feeling very happy about it, but at least being supportive of the process moving on”.

He was speaking in the context of President Higgins making what is seen by many as a historic trip to the UK, where he is meeting Queen Elizabeth in Windsor today.

Ahern said his words to those people is “it is terrible that in the Troubles so many people lost their lives, so many people were scarred by bombings and maimed for life.”

I think they should always remember as hard as it is that a lot of this suffering did lead us to a good position. It was horrible for them that it had to happen but it did bring us to days like this where people can support each other, people can celebrate to an extent and people can move on.

He added:

“Let’s hope that their sacrifices, as terrible as they were, make sure we never go back to these time of trouble and violence and hate for them, and animosities between our peoples”.

During his visit to the UK today, President Higgins will address both houses of Parliament and attend a historic State banquet.

Read: Here’s what the President is up to on day one of his State visit to the UK>

Read: Touchdown: The President has arrived in the UK as historic State visit begins>

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