Subject: O'Loan to be Irish envoy to Timor Leste
Irish experience can help Timorese: Dermot Ahern
O'Loan to be Irish envoy to Timor Leste
Wednesday, 20th February, 2008
Northern Ireland's former Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is to become a special Irish government envoy in the troubled Timor-Leste (East Timor) region. <http://ads.eircom.net/adclick/key=/site=eircom/area=news/aamsz=250x250/pos=14> Advertisement <http://ads.eircom.net/adclick/key=/site=eircom/area=news/aamsz=250x250/pos=14> Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern made the announcement today during a two-day visit to the Southeast Asian country.
He said the Government hopes the lessons of the Irish peace process can help other countries ravaged by violence and wants Mrs O'Loan to act as its roving ambassador in Timor-Leste.
"I believe that Ms O'Loan ... can bring her experience and wisdom to bear on the situation," Mr Ahern said in the capital Dili.
Mrs O'Loan was Northern Ireland's first Police Ombudsman and held the role for seven years. The office was established under the Belfast Agreement.
The appointment is the first under the Government's Conflict Resolution Initiative, which will send a series of roving ambassadors to trouble spots around the world.
Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao declared a state of emergency after President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot and critically wounded by rebel soldiers in a dawn gun battle at his residence on the outskirts of Dili. Mr Gusmao was attacked shortly afterwards but escaped unhurt.
Despite the apparent failed coup, Mr Ahern vowed to press ahead with his trip to outline plans for the new conflict resolution initiative.
Mr Ahern met the Prime Minister and addressed the parliament in Dili.
"It is important to stress that my visit is part of a long-term and systematic series of contacts between our two countries under the Conflict Resolution Initiative," Mr Ahern said.
"Ireland supported the Timorese people in their struggle for independence, our army assisted in the transition to independence, and, through the Conflict Resolution Initiative and the ongoing role of Irish Aid, I am determined to see us play a key role in assisting the transition to stability and prosperity in this country."
Previously known as East Timor, the Asian state won independence in 2002 after more than 400 years of occupation by Portugal and Indonesia.
Irish experience can help Timorese: Dermot Ahern
19/02/08 | 12:39
Ireland can play a vital role in resolving global conflicts by sharing experiences of its troubled history, it was claimed today.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern will travel to Timor Leste for an official visit tomorrow to unveil the government's new Conflict Resolution Unit, promised under the Programme for Government.
The Asian country will be the first state to be assisted by experts from the unit, which it is hoped will appoint roving ambassadors to trouble spots around the world.
The two-day trip, which will include a series of high-level meetings with government ministers and aid projects, comes just over a week after a double assassination attempt on the fledgling nation's leadership.
"Timor-Leste is in a transition phase, moving from conflict to stability and prosperity," Mr Ahern said.
"Ireland wants to play its role in helping Timor, sharing our experience of conflict resolution and of building partnerships and a workable peace.
"We don't have all the answers but I believe we have expertise and knowledge which we can share with the wider international community and particularly countries which are emerging from division and conflict.
"I believe our work on the ground in Timor can be rolled out in other countries as we expand the work of the Conflict Resolution Unit."
The country, which was previously known as East Timor, won independence in 2002 after more than 400 years of occupation by Portugal and Indonesia.
Last week President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot and wounded by rebel soldiers in a pre-dawn assault while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped injury in a similar attack.
Despite the apparent failed coup Mr Ahern vowed to press ahead with the trip to outline plans for the new conflict resolution initiative.
"This is a new role for Ireland internationally and a significant development in our foreign policy," he said.
"The unit will work closely with our overseas aid programme through the development of several initiatives complementary to the existing Irish Aid programme in the country."
Ahern is scheduled to hold talks with Mr Gusmao and opposition leader Mari Alkatiri of the Fretilin party.
He will also meet with the president of the parliament, and now acting president, Fernando de Araujo La Sama and visit projects funded by Irish Aid.
Timor Leste will receive five million euro in Irish Aid funding this year.
Irish troops participated in UN peacekeeping operations in Timor Leste between 1999-2004.
Aid agency Concern has been working in the Asian state since 1999 mainly on education, malnutrition and rural development programmes.
Trocaire has also been supporting projects run by local NGOs in the country since 2000.
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