Embassy of Finland has named the guestroom in Ambassador´s Residence in Dublin ”Ahtisaari Suite"
To honor the work of President Martti Ahtisaari in peace mediation, including his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, Embassy of Finland has named the guestroom in Ambassador´s Residence in Dublin ”Ahtisaari Suite”. Ambassador Lahnalampi hopes to welcome more visitors to her Residence to promote peace and other shared Irish-Finnish interests as soon as we have together conquered the Covid-19 pandemic.
Peace mediation is a key priority in Finnish foreign and security policy. The Good Friday Agreement is a demonstration of the fact that both mediation and peace are possible, but you need great efforts, political support and constant nurturing to succeed.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari has had a globally influential career. His work has contributed to several peace processes, among them the Northern Ireland process. After his presidency, Ahtisaari was invited to inspect IRA weapons with the former secretary-general of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa in 2000, and to verify that the IRA was not actively using their weapons.
The journey took Ahtisaari and Ramaphosa to forests, barns, potato cellars and through trap doors. The reality of the very down to earth inspection work is described vividly in Ahtisaari´s biography by journalists Merikallio and Ruokonen (The Mediator: A Biography of Martti Ahtisaari, 2015): A tractor had appeared in the dark yard. Rocking back and forth on its wooden floor the men were transported once again through woods and across meadows, uphill to the front of a building resembling a potato cellar. Lying at the foot of some stairs, instead of potatoes there was a considerable number of rifles and machine guns. “I scrambled down there too. We counted the weapons and pulled plastic seal strapping through and around them.”
Luckily the hard efforts paid off. In peace mediation, reputation and trust is everything, and since Ramaphonsa and Ahtisaari were trusted, their inspections facilitated the continuation of the stalled peace process. Although the IRA would take another few years until it concluded the decommissioning process and officially announced the end of the armed struggle, the work done by Ahtisaari and Ramaphonsa was a significant step towards peace in Northern Ireland.
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern remembers President Ahtisaari well and recently wrote to us the following paragraph on Ahtisaari´s contribution: “One of the major obstacles to implementing the Good Friday Agreement was dealing with the issue of decommissioning of arms and putting them beyond use. To make progress it was decided to appoint two senior internationally renowned peace makers to act as inspectors and verifiers that the arms were tagged, monitored in their arms dumps and not used. President Ahtisaari of Finland and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa undertook this crucial role. It proved a successful mechanism in moving reconciliation forward and untimely dealing with the contentions aspect of finally destroying weaponry and explosives, allowing the political process to evolve in a meaningful way.“
Ahtisaari's journey frequently took him to Dublin where he often stayed at the Finnish Ambassador's Residence. To honor his efforts and as a gesture of Finland´s continued support to the Good Friday Agreement and its implementation, the Embassy has named the guest room at the Residence “Ahtisaari Suite”.