Thursday, November 26, 1998 Published at 14:05 GMT
Blair: Declare victory of peace
Symbolic unity at a difficult time for the peace process
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on nationalists and unionists to understand one another and work together for a secure peace.
He said after decades of division caused by Northern Ireland, the province could now bring the two countries closer together.
"They are good and decent people just like you," he said. "They feel threatened - threatened by terrorism and worried that the Good Friday Agreement would force them into a united Ireland.
"Just as we must understand your yearning for a united Ireland, so too must you understand what the best of unionism is about."
He told the Dail his mother was born in Ireland and he spent every childhood summer holiday until the Troubles began there.
"So much shared history, so much shared pain and now the hope of a new shared beginning."
Ahern: New way forward
Later, at a Dublin school, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said his country too was working towards the same end.
He said the end of Ireland's constitutional claim to Northern Ireland was a major step forward.
Mr Ahern told young people at St Aidan's Secondary: "The year I left this school, in the autumn of 1968, on the 5th of October 1968 the Troubles started and they never really ended.
"Hopefully the beginning of the end was when Prime Minister Tony Blair and myself at seven o'clock on the 10th of April signed an agreement that said there was a better way of doing things and that way is not killing, bombing, murdering."
Blair: No turning back
In his speech, Mr Blair admitted the peace process faced difficulties but said it had gone too far now to turn back.
He said the impact of his meeting with survivors of the Omagh bombing, which killed 29 and injured more than 200, strengthened his determination to press ahead.
"Now the UK and Ireland are two modern countries. We must try to put our histories behind us, and try to forgive and forget these age-old enmities, and look to a better future."
"It is in the end about belonging - the wish of unionists to belong to the UK, the wish of nationalists to belong to a united Ireland."
A small protest by members of Republican Sinn Fein greeted Mr Blair outside the Dail, but he was warmly welcomed by members of the parliament and received a standing ovation.
The UK prime minister's address follows in the footsteps of a long line of heads of state, including John F Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.