The President's Trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom

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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13
BELFAST AND CHEQUERS

 

Meeting with Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Stormont

The Stormont Parliament Building is now home to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive established under the Good Friday Accord. It is an imposing neoclassical structure situated on a long, rising slope in East Belfast. Completed in 1932, it served as the home of the former Northern Ireland Parliament until it dissolved in 1972. The short-lived power-sharing "Sunningdale" Assembly met in the building in 1974. Also on the grounds of the Stormont estate is the Castle, which now houses elements of the Northern Ireland Office, and the modern Castle Building, which was the site of the multiparty talks chaired by Senator Mitchell.

The building has been completely renovated since a 1995 fire caused extensive damage to the Commons chamber. Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam worked to redefine the building as "the people's Stormont" by sponsoring art exhibits, tours -- and even a concert by Elton John.

 

Meeting with David Trimble and Seamus Mallon
Stormont

 

 

Speech to the People of Northern Ireland
Odyssey Arena

The Odyssey Arena is part of the new 100 ($140) million Odyssey Project development along the Belfast riverfront. The complex is Belfast's flagship "Millennium" project, a series of major building projects undertaken across the UK with support from lottery proceeds. The arena hosted its inaugural event on December 2, 2000, with a Belfast Giants hockey match.

The arena is a principal element of a major complex which will include a world class, interactive science museum, an IMAX large-format film theater, a multiplex cinema, theme bars, restaurants and a shopping mall. Situated on the Abercorn Basin at the Belfast Harbour estate, Odyssey covers a total area of approximately 23 acres. The entire complex is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2001.

The Odyssey Arena is now the biggest indoor venue in Ireland. Besides hockey, the Odyssey can be configured to host boxing, basketball, tennis, and indoor track and field events, as well as motorcycle trials, concerts, and conferences.

 

The President will travel by helicopter to Chequers, England

The Prime Minister's 1500-acre country residence, Chequers, is located in the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, 40 miles from central London. It boasts a history dating from Roman times. Noted in the Domesday Book (1086), the land was once owned by the military religious order the Knights Hospitallers, perhaps acquired as its owners prepared to join the Crusades. It was successively owned by various English nobles. Lord Lee of Fareham, a Member of Parliament, bequeathed Chequers to Great Britain in 1917. David Lloyd George became its first official resident in 1921.

The current house is a medium-sized red-brick Tudor mansion, completed in 1565 by William Hawtrey. Its treasures include a Regency oak pedestal table used by Napoleon Bonaparte during his St. Helena exile; Admiral Lord Nelson's watch; a death mask of Oliver Cromwell, a copy of which was cast and given by Lord Lee to his friend, Theodore Roosevelt; and a ring belonging to Queen Elizabeth I. As in any self-respecting English manor home, a concealed door faced with dummy books in the Long Gallery leads to a secret passage to the Cromwell Corridor. On the south side is a walled garden laid out in the formal Elizabethan manner. The beech avenue of the main drive was the gift of Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. The swimming pool, Prime Minister Edward Heath's "pride and joy," was the 1973 gift of American Ambassador Walter Annenberg, to commemorate President Nixon's two visits to Chequers.

On his first visit there, Winston Churchill described Chequers as "a paneled museum full of history, full of treasures - but insufficiently warmed." He first learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from a radio broadcast while at Chequers. Many of his most memorable speeches, including the stirring "We shall fight him by land, we shall fight him by sea, we shall fight him in the air," were broadcast from the estate.




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