Posts Tagged ‘St. Patrick’s Day’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!



Dear Friend,

You might not know me, but my name is Stella O’Leary and I founded Irish American Democrats to support candidates who promote peace and prosperity in Ireland. Hillary, more than any other 2016 presidential candidate, fits that bill.

It may be hard to remember, but 20 years ago, St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland would have been anything but happy. Back then, Hillary traveled to Northern Ireland  to help resolve what had been a decades-long conflict.


Hillary brought Catholic and Protestant women together over tea and soda bread. Her inspiration, and the Irish women’s groups she helped build, are the heart of the peace process today, she talked about how she loves to visit https://www.village-bakery.com to get ideas for her baking, and that’s how she got inspired to give out the bread. Share their story to bring smiles to Irish faces this St. Patrick’s Day.

In part because of Hillary’s work, I can say:

Finally, a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Stella O’Leary

P.S. I wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t say lightly that a vote for Hillary brings smiles to every Irish face—please share this story to wish your friends and family a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Same to you, Stella! Erin go Bragh!

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In June 2009, Hillary Clinton, rushing to a meeting at the White House with Richard Holbrooke, slipped on the wet, oily floor of the State Department garage and fractured her elbow.  Concerned, Holbrooke wanted to stay with her, but she told him to proceed to the White House meeting without her.  “That’s an order,”  she said.

She was brought to the hospital where surgery was performed.  Pins and a rod were inserted,  and she worked from home for a few days.  When she returned to the office we saw glimpses of her wearing what we called the “Sling of State.”  On June 29 she returned to the press room for the first time since the accident.

Her first official appearance and first official act upon her return was, on July 1, 2009, the swearing in of Daniel Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland.

Three-and-a-half years down the road, at the conclusion of her final trip as Secretary of State,  Hillary fell ill  – her last stops were Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Here she is with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny who was in New York for the parade today.


Here she is  with First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness.


Following  this trip, she was scheduled to visit Morocco and the Middle East, but her illness and resultant fall and concussion cancelled those plans.  She spent the rest of December 2012 recovering.   She returned to D.C. on January 7, 2013 to a huge welcome and was presented with the “Helment of State” to protect her delicate head.


Her first official public event upon her return this time was to thank retiring Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia for their service.  She awarded them the flag that had flown over Embassy Dublin during his tenure and the Chief of Mission flag.  Here is  an excerpt of what she said.

So you and Patricia have done a fabulous job and I am so pleased to have this chance formally to present you two flags – the Chief of Mission flag, and the flag of the United States, as a small token of your very successful tenure in Ireland.

There you go. (Applause.) And Patricia, this one’s for you. You also served.

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The love affair between Bill and Hillary Clinton and Ireland did not begin with her service at the State Department and is certain not to end there.  They are both loved on the Emerald Isle.  Both of them are sure to return many times over.

We wish them and all of our readers a Happy and Blessed St. Patrick’s Day.  Our Irish eyes are smiling for all the good they have done.  We wish Ambassador and Mrs. Rooney and their considerable family the same.

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On the Occasion of St. Patrick’s Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 16, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Ireland as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this March 17. Today, we honor the rich history and cultural heritage of the Irish people and reflect on the bonds of friendship and family between our two nations.

Irish contributions to America have shaped American culture from the founding of our nation. Eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Irish-Americans and half of our American Presidents have been of Irish descent. Countless Irish-Americans fought bravely during the Civil War, giving their lives for a better America. Throughout our society, Irish Americans have contributed in ways large and small to the bedrock of American life.

The depth and scope of Irish influence throughout the world is immeasurable and exemplifies your rich history and culture. As you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in cities from Dublin to Detroit, know that the United States stands with you. Congratulations and best wishes for a year of peace and prosperity.

And a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you, too, Mme. Secretary!

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St. Patrick’s Day

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 16, 2011


On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Ireland as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this March 17th. The bonds between our two nations stretch back to the beginnings of both republics, and the ties of kinship, history, and shared values run deep. Americans also celebrate this holiday as an occasion to commemorate the innumerable contributions Ireland’s sons and daughters have made in building the United States. Thanks to the many millions of Irish-Americans in the United States – as well as the millions more who feel Irish for a day – St. Patrick’s Day unites our countries by a shared appreciation for the Irish spirit. Please accept my best wishes for another year of peace and prosperity. Erin go Bragh!


I hope and pray that soon Secretary Clinton will be wheels up safely from Tunis and stopping to refuel at Shannon Airport. She was there last year on St. Patrick’s Day, too, on her way to Russia. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Mme. Secretary, and come home safely.

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St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC
March 17, 2010

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the people of Ireland as they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I hope to have the pleasure of spending an hour in Shannon tonight on my way to Russia, the first time I would ever have been able to mark St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland itself.
This year we are also celebrating the historic Hillsborough Agreement in Northern Ireland on the devolution of policing and justice. This was a key step toward realizing the promise of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, and achieving a full and lasting peace in Northern Ireland. The people and government of the Republic of Ireland can be proud of the role they played in supporting the peace process and producing this progress.
Like St. Patrick himself, the Irish have overcome great adversity to become an inspiration to people around the world, as peace-makers and poets, and as immigrants and innovators. The connections between our two countries stretch back for centuries and are still strong today. For millions of Americans, Ireland is the homeland. And for millions more, Ireland represents the progress that is possible when people come together and work together for prosperity and peace.
So all of us join in celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day and the rich heritage it honors. In Chicago the river will run green. The people of Boston and New York will march in famous parades. And across our country Americans will proudly wear shamrock ties and emerald blouses proclaiming their affection for Ireland.
I offer best wishes for a safe and happy holiday to everyone celebrating today in Ireland, in the United States, and around the world.

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Daily Appointments Schedule for March 17, 2010

Washington, DC
March 17, 2010


10:45 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen, at the White House.

11:40 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends General Jones’ Meeting with Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, at the Department of State.

p.m. Secretary Clinton, accompanied by Special Envoy George Mitchell, Under Secretary Bill Burns and Assistant Secretary Phil Gordon, depart for foreign travel to Moscow.

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Top of the day to all. I do not have a Daily Schedule to share yet, but to find THIS lovely video of such a beautiful colleen on St. Patrick’s Day is a blessing enough! Thank you, Hillary, for wearing my favorite dress! Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all, especially to our exquisite SOS!

Keynote Address at the National Gala of the American Ireland Fund

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ronald Reagan Building
Washington, DC
March 16, 2010

Oh, my goodness. Oh, thank you all so much. And thank you, Declan Kelly. You have once again proven the truth of one of my husband’s rules of politics: Always be introduced by someone you have appointed to high office. (Laughter. Applause.)

Declan is doing a wonderful job. And it is great to be back here with so many friends and former colleagues from the Congress. There are a number of senators and representatives who are devoted not only to Ireland but to the Fund. And I am so pleased that the Taoiseach is here, and I want publicly to commend him for the very difficult decisions that he is making in the midst of the economic crisis. (Applause.)

I’m so grateful for Loretta and Kirnin* for their leadership. This is a labor of love for both of them and it shows not only at the gala every year but every day as they pursue not only the American Ireland Fund but all of the funds around the world that do so much to promote the Irish culture and create more understanding and connections among people. And I’m delighted, too, that we are joined by the ambassadors between the United States and Ireland, Ambassador Collins and, of course, the inimitable Ambassador Rooney, who is turning every Irish person into a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, single-handedly, one by one. (Applause.)

And to have our friends from Northern Ireland here is a special treat, especially on this day after so much work that has led to such a positive outcome. And to have the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister, other members of the Executive and those who are supporting the continuation of progress in Northern Ireland gives me, and I know all of you, great joy.

I can’t help but thank the Sidwell Friends Chamber Chorus, since my daughter attended Sidwell, and they did an excellent job on Danny Boy. (Applause.)

And then in a few minutes, you’ll see another phenomenal group of young people, Celtic Dreams. And my escort for tonight, the former President of the United States (laughter) went to an event in the Bronx for our friend, Joe Crowley. And as part of that event, Joe had these young people perform. And if you were watching the screen during dinner, you saw a picture of them when the American Ireland Fund paid for this group of primarily black and Hispanic kids from New York City to travel to Ireland to demonstrate what their Irish-born teacher had taught them in terms of Irish dance. And so I know you’re going to enjoy them. Bill came home just carried away by what he had seen in terms of their talent, but even more, the way that the Irish culture and the dance had brought these kids together, giving them something to be so proud of. And then to travel to Ireland to share that was a real dream for them.

Thank you for this award. It is extremely meaningful to me because of the work that I’ve been privileged to do, first when Bill was president and very committed to making sure that the United States, along with the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach were involved in helping to support a peace process in Northern Ireland. And as we gather again on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, we have so much to be grateful for. And it’s especially meaningful to everyone who has any connection to the island of Ireland. For millions of Americans, it is the ancestral homeland. For millions more, it becomes such on St. Patrick’s Day.

And I am going to an extreme tomorrow. Because I have to travel to Moscow for an important set of meetings, we’re going to leave in time so that I can land for refueling in Shannon while St. Patrick’s Day is still going on. (Applause.)

I want to thank the people and the Government of the Republic of Ireland for the partnership that we have between our two countries that has certainly been strong and vibrant for many years. But today it is especially meaningful. We are grateful that Ireland was one of the first nations to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay and is now helping them resettle into new lives while helping us move closer to the ultimate goal of closing the detention facility once and for all. (Applause.)

And I want to thank the Taoiseach, his government and the people of Ireland for the Irish troops that are working to establish security and create conditions for long-term stability in Afghanistan. (Applause.)

And as the Taoiseach said when he made his remarks before dinner, Ireland has made a significant contribution toward solving another urgent global challenge: hunger and food insecurity. And as the Irish know from your own history, the failure of an agricultural system can crumble an economy and cause terrible human suffering. And with the decision made by an Irish Government in the midst of these challenging economic times to commit 20 percent of its assistance budget toward ending global hunger, Ireland has taken a leading role at a critical time. (Applause.)

The United States has made food security a key priority, and I don’t know that I would have had any choice since Jim McGovern showed up about the first day that I became Secretary of State and said we must make hunger and food security a priority of our country. (Applause.) And along with Ireland, we will co-host a conference at the United Nations in September.

And in the North, the people of Northern Ireland have come so far to make real the aspirations enshrined in the Good Friday and St. Andrews agreements. And I really commend the leadership led by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness. Men and women who once were enemies now work in unison to bridge remaining divides in places that were no man’s and no women’s lands, social centers and small businesses are sparking commerce and a shared sense of community.

As Yeats wrote, “peace comes dropping slow.” And it may seem slow to those of us who live in such fast-paced times as these, but it has emerged. And it has emerged because the people of Northern Ireland has demanded it. And so I commend the Northern Ireland Assembly on its recent endorsement of the Hillsborough Agreement. And I commend Sean Woodward, who has done a masterful job representing the government in London and the Prime Minister. Everyone deserves credit for what has happened. But the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister and all the parties in Northern Ireland itself made this agreement happen. The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister and others of us worked to facilitate it, but at the end of the day, it was the decision of these leaders that mattered.

And for me, it has always been about the future of children. Every child, in my view, deserves a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential. And I’ve met so many children from Northern Ireland over the last 17 years. I recall one young women from Bill’s and my trip to Belfast in 1995. We met her at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall and Bill read an excerpt from a letter that she had written when she was 14 years old. This is what Sharon Haughey said back then: “Both sides have been hurt. Both sides will have to forgive.” That’s a self-evident truth, but it’s one that remained elusive.

Bill and I stayed in touch with Sharon over the years. And when I was a senator from New York she served as an intern in my office. And then she returned to Northern Ireland and continued to pursue her passion for politics, winning a seat on her city and district council. And when I was in Northern Ireland last October, we had our first visit in several years, and I was not surprised to hear her determination that she was going to be part of helping to shape a new future for Northern Ireland.

As we look now at where this process of devolution has evolved to, I would really echo the points that Declan Kelly made. We have to make sure that, not only in Northern Ireland that in all democracies, that we can deliver for people, that we can give them a sense of possibility. As I said at Stormont in my speech there, the value of peace is not just the absence of violence but the presence of new opportunities for investment and jobs, for better education and healthcare, and for political participation, like young Sharon has pursued. Peace may be officially established by a vote or an agreement, but it is the real life experiences of people day after day and year after year that cement it, that create what de Tocqueville called the habits of the heart. And if young people do not see a better life, if they do not believe there is opportunity, then some may wonder, well, what is peace really all about, and is it worth preserving?

I see this around the world now. In so many places, young people are not sure about what direction to take, and it is up to us to work to provide those concrete opportunities that will help them climb the economic ladder, will give them access to higher education, will provide the critical services that are needed to make sure that both political and civic life flourish.

This work is not a luxury. It is not a subordinate aspect of peace; it is central to peace because everyone who is moved to peace has to make sure that it does get solidified. And so the United States will seek to increase our efforts with the Northern Ireland Assembly and the British and Irish Governments to expand economic, educational, political, and civic opportunities to the young people of Northern Ireland. And our work to help encourage the creation of jobs is well underway. We’ve seen hundreds of new jobs created, and we will see even more, including the 50 that were announced this morning, thanks to investment by a company from Massachusetts, the Q1 Labs.

But as I’ve spoken with both First Minister Robinson and Deputy First Minister McGuinness and with Minister Eileen Foster* and others, we will have an investment conference in Washington this fall which will include a targeted community of business leaders who’ve expressed an interest in investing in Northern Ireland. And we will continue to work with the American Ireland Fund, which has been instrumental in forging economic partnerships, just as it has supported the peace process at every step.

And I appreciate very much the Fund has agreed to work with Envoy Kelly and Minister Eileen Foster* and the organization Invest Northern Ireland to create an exchange program that will place workers from Northern Ireland in American companies for a year to gain valuable experience and knowledge.

And as we look at what’s happening in the Republic of Ireland, I want to reiterate the commitment of the United States to work with the Taoiseach, with the government, and the people of Ireland to confront the global downturn and to help promote a global recovery. We know Ireland has been hard-hit. Many of its people had badly affected as has happened worldwide, including in our own country. But we want the Irish to know across the entire island that we stand with you. The United States has a bond and a commitment. And during these tough times, we will be there to help you move forward so that, together, we can realize the return of economic activity and prosperity and jobs for all. We particularly have to focus (applause) on those who are hard to reach, on those who are unemployed, on those who are maybe, without further training and intervention, unemployable.

But this is a challenge that all advanced democracies face, and we will work together to learn the best ways forward. And we will also continue to use the Northern Ireland peace process as a model for other nations struggling to end conflict, just as the work of the Irish American community in supporting that process is a model.

I have heard from leaders of several countries who have studied not only what happened in Northern Ireland but what happened in the Irish American community to enable it. And one of the ways that worked was through this Fund. And so taking the experience of this Fund and the Irish American community, I helped to celebrate the launch of the American Pakistan Foundation. And efforts are now underway to engage communities in America with ties to Mexico, Haiti, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and other countries. These communities of the diaspora fill a critical niche. We want to begin to support them to do what the Irish American Community has done: to reach back, to make contributions, and to assist on the road to peace. So I’m delighted to announce that the State Department will help spread the model of the American Ireland Fund through a conference we will hold later this year to share best practices and smart ideas for engaging global diaspora communities. (Applause.)

Ireland has meant a great deal to me and to Bill. And I remember the first time our daughter set foot in Ireland. She was a teenager. We were not even actually going to Ireland, but we were again stopping in Shannon to refuel. (Laughter.) And so as we got off the airplane, she want up to one of the officials standing there to greet us, and she was engaged in very serious conversation. And I didn’t know quite what she was talking about. And then she came back and she said, “They’re going to let me do it.” And I said, “What are they going to let you do?” And she said, “They’re going to let me leave the airport and go out and actually touch the ground of Ireland.” Wow. So she did. And she gathered some soil from Shannon Airport, and she placed it in a bottle, and she brought that home with her to the White House, where it resided until she went off to college, and she has kept it ever since.

It’s a small story, but it’s one that (applause) – is a metaphor, because I think many people because I think many people, particularly those who can trace their ancestors back to Ireland as Bill does – he keeps finding people who tell him that, no, they’re from somewhere else in Ireland. He now has about five pictures of the small little house that they were allegedly from (laughter), all of them different and all of them displayed as though they were the real place. (Laughter.) But it shows how strongly he and so many of you and us feel about this connection we have and the stake we feel we continue to have in Ireland’s future.

And thanks to the American Ireland Fund, we all have a chance to contribute. And so, thank you. Thank you for this honor for me, but really, I give it back to all of you because without the American Ireland Fund, we would not be here today on the eve of a St. Patrick’s Day celebration where we can say peace has come once and for all to Northern Ireland.

Thank you and God bless you.

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Remarks With Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 16, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to be standing here with the foreign minister. Because of our personal relationship and because of the close relationship between our two countries, we always look forward to these visits. And I’m also going to be meeting later with other friends and particularly looking forward to seeing the Taoiseach tonight at the American-Ireland Fund gala.

It may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the United States and Ireland have a close historic, cultural, familial relationship. Millions of Americans trace their ancestry back to Ireland and are very proud to do so, not just on St. Patrick’s Day but all year long. And because our two nations are linked by common values and aspirations for the peaceful, prosperous future that we want to see for our people, I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting Ireland many times, including last Fall as Secretary of State. And I think Ambassador Rooney, our excellent ambassador, is here and entertained me very well when I was with him.
And I’ll actually spend, we hope, about an hour in Shannon tomorrow night celebrating St. Patrick’s Day en route to Moscow. That’s our goal. I believe that may be a first for me, which I will proudly claim.

But this year’s commemoration and celebration comes at a particularly auspicious time. On March 9th, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to complete the process of devolution, an important step toward realizing the promise of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, and achieving a full and lasting peace for the people of Northern Ireland. Foreign Minister Martin and his government played a vital role in helping the parties come together to take this step. I know for a fact that he was there for long days and sleepless nights during the Hillsborough negotiations because I spoke to him during the two-to-three-hour a.m. period during one of those nights.
And I know that he and the Taoiseach and not only the government but the people of Ireland will continue to support the leaders of Northern Ireland as they shoulder these new responsibilities. So I thank you, Minister, for your leadership and persistence, and we will be discussing the way forward, as we just have in our meeting, during today and tomorrow, as well as a range of other issues of common concern.
I am particularly looking forward to the upcoming Millennium Development Goals summit in September around the time of the United Nations General Assembly. The United States and Ireland have agreed to co-host a sidelines event highlighting global hunger, food security, and nutrition. I want to commend Ireland for its commitment to devoting 20 percent of its assistance budget to meet the urgent challenge of global hunger. This is a priority for both of our governments, but it’s a historical passion and cause for Ireland.

Ireland is already helping to increase food security in Malawi, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other places. They are targeting maternal and infant malnutrition. Ireland’s great famine looms large in the history of both of our countries, and we understand what a destabilizing and destructive force hunger still is in too many places around our globe. And I appreciate, particularly during these very difficult economic times, the commitment and generosity of the Irish people.
On this and so many other fronts, Ireland is a valued partner. Ireland was among the first nations to accept and resettle detainees from Guantanamo Bay, which was an important step and vote of confidence in President Obama’s policy to close Guantanamo. We continue to honor the service of Irish troops in Afghanistan and the very considerable role that Ireland has played in helping move our policy there forward. We stand side-by-side against extremists who threaten peace-loving people everywhere.
So again, Minister Martin, thank you for all that you personally are doing, thank you for your friendship, and thank you for representing the close relationship between our two countries.
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: Well, Secretary Clinton, it’s a great privilege and pleasure for me to meet with you again this St. Patrick’s week and to say how much we appreciate the time that you have made available for us to discuss a whole range of issues. And 12 months ago, I think we met here and the key issue on that occasion was prospects for the completion of devolution of policing and justice in Northern Ireland. And we spent some time discussing the North at that meeting.
I want to thank you for the constant personal engagement of yourself and your Administration to that issue. I think you have injected leadership and momentum to the process, and particularly during critical times. And getting that call at 3:00 a.m. in the morning was a very welcome one, may I say. And – but nonetheless, I think the – as I said earlier, it is important that American dimension has been consistent, it has added value to the peace process in Northern Ireland. And in the context of the Hillsborough Agreement, it added significant value to facilitate a resolution of the issues between the parties in Northern Ireland.

So we thank you very much for that, to President Obama and his predecessors as well, for their contribution to peace in Ireland. We also work well, and as I said during our meeting, we appreciated the appointment of Declan Kelly, your economic envoy to Northern Ireland, and the work he has engaged in with the many private sector interests and business interests on the island of Ireland, and particularly Northern Ireland, with a view to advancing the economic dimension.
As I said during the meeting, reconciliation between communities remains a key priority of ours, between the communities in Northern Ireland. And in particular, I think it’s fair to say we still have some way to go to make sure that we can bring the benefits of peace to hard-to-reach communities. I’m talking about areas where the health indices are not what they should be, where school completion rates may not be what they should be.

And I think we’ve discussed the prospect of the International Fund for Ireland being remanded, if you like, with a view to new terms of reference and new focus on that issue, so that on the ground in communities, that we can ensure the dividend of peace reaches them and that we can take efforts to try and support economic opportunity for young people in such communities. And so that’s a key issue for us going forward.
The Secretary said, and I also spoke, of course, about the issue of comprehensive immigration reform and the operation of the working holiday visa agreement, which is a very important bilateral agreement in terms of maintaining engagement and linkage between young people in the U.S. and in Ireland, and I think we’ve both agreed to work on that particular agreement with a view to enhancing opportunities, again, for young people from the U.S. to go to Ireland and young students in Ireland to come to the U.S.
We’re very pleased to be co-hosting that meeting in New York next September on hunger and nutrition, and we again appreciate the opportunity to do that with you. And I know our officials who work on that in the coming weeks to put flesh on that and to ensure a substantive meeting that can add value to the countries that we are assisting, particularly in terms of food, crop production, and enhancing the lot of small landholders in Africa who do need our assistance and indeed our help.

We reviewed a number of areas from Afghanistan to the Middle East, and I took the opportunity to share my recent experience in Gaza with the Secretary of State. And I think we also took the opportunity – I took the opportunity again, to again put on record our appreciation for the priority that you have given to the Middle Eastern question – challenging, complex, difficult, but your commitment and prioritization of the issue has been constant and consistent. And of course, we do know that your (inaudible) Senator George Mitchell, of course, who played such a valuable role in Northern Ireland, has applied himself diligently with great attention to detail. We know his patience, his legendary patience in situations like this.

And as we have said at many international fora, we in Ireland have great confidence in his capacity and your capacity to see this through. And we appreciate the strong and active U.S. leadership on this issue that you’re giving. I look forward to joining Taoiseach to his meeting with President Obama at the White House tomorrow to mark St. Patrick’s Day. We’re honored again by your facilitation of that and by the U.S. Administration. And may I say, I could not think of a better place to have St. Patrick’s Day than in Ireland prior to an engagement with your Russian colleagues afterwards. (Laughter.) So maybe an Irish coffee can warm the situation —

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s true. That’s true.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: — as you move to Russia later tomorrow. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Micheal.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll begin with Jill Dougherty from CNN.
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, we – on the Mideast, which you both have spoken about, we know that you’re expecting some type of response from Israel, Mr. Netanyahu. Can you tell us how and when that might happen? Could it be Mr. Mitchell who might go to the region to get that response or is it you personally? And then also, what does Israel need to do to restore confidence in their devotion to the peace process and also to the U.S. relationship?
And Mr. Minister, if I could ask you, you have just been to the region. Your own Irish peace process is coming to the end. Mr. Mitchell was very instrumental in that, and he is now in the Mideast. What is your assessment? You’re just back from Gaza. What’s your assessment of the prospects for peace negotiations right now under these difficult circumstances? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, we are engaged in a very active consultation with the Israelis over steps that we think would demonstrate the requisite commitment to this process. And it’s been a very important effort on our part as well as theirs, because we know how hard this is. This is a very difficult, complex matter, as the foreign minister just said.
But the Obama Administration is committed to a two-state solution. We are committed to the resumption of negotiations between the parties. We think that George Mitchell’s legendary patience will win the day as the process gets started again, because there’s just too much at stake for both the Palestinians and the Israelis. But when we have something to say, we will, of course, share it with you. But our goal now is to make sure that we have the full commitment from both our Israeli and our Palestinian partners to this effort.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: I would simply say, as well, that our own lessons from Northern Ireland would indicate that where there’s a political will on behalf of all parties to a conflict or to a dispute, there can be resolution, and the prospects can – for resolution can be good. And it seems to me, having come back from the region, that we – that the initiative on the proximity talks is the correct pathway. It’s one that we have supported.
And we do believe that the proximity talks should commence as quickly as possible, and then, that if confidence-building measures can follow quickly in relation to that, and – our view along the way is that the voices of moderation should be supported at all times and that conditions on the ground should be such as to enhance those who want the path of peace. And I think we’ve made those points at international fora and so on. So one can never despair about any particular conflict situation. We know, ourselves, that the Northern Ireland peace process wasn’t built in a day. It’s a long, long process taking, I think, 20 odd years –
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: — before we’ve arrived at where we’ve arrived at. And it still needs a lot of attention, focus, and application.
MYLES GEIRAN: (Inaudible.) Senan Molony – Irish Daily Mail
QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, the plight of the undocumented Irish is still a hot issue at home, and I was wondering whether you could cast any light on the progress toward general immigration reform. And secondly, I was also wondering if, in light of your own tremendous reception in Ireland and that of your husband to which you have alluded, you have been maybe bending the ear of President Obama about a visit to Ireland.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, first, the issue of the undocumented is one that President Obama is very committed to addressing. Just this past week, even in the midst of all of his work on the healthcare reform legislation, he held, I think, two meetings about immigration reform and he is committed to moving forward with legislation. He knows that people have to be willing to get out there and defend, what is to us, a very sensible approach of resolving these ongoing immigration challenges.
As you know, I served as a senator from New York for eight years and have spent a lot of time on immigration issues and a particular – with a particular emphasis to the Irish undocumented, many of whom, as you know, live in New York. I don’t think I’m telling the immigration people anything they don’t know. (Laughter.) And I miss going to those rallies and hearing Joe Crowley sing and Niall O’Dowd hold forth and your ambassador come.
So we’re – I’m out of politics, domestic politics. So I can only say that President Obama is committed and understands, very much, the importance of comprehensive immigration reform. And I can also, without fear of contradiction, tell you he would love to come to Ireland. It’s just a question of trying to manage all of these important challenges at once. He has a very full domestic policy agenda which he is chipping away at and making progress on, but believe me, Ireland is near the top of the list. Dan Rooney wouldn’t have it any other way. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: The only think I can say is that we have many challenges at home as well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, I’ve heard.
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: But a presidential visit is one we could accommodate. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will mention that to him.
MR. CROWLEY: (Inaudible.) Lee Ross from Fox.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, there has been great concern expressed from Capitol Hill about the reaction from you and the Administration towards the situation in Israel. Some are calling it spats, family feud. One even said that the reaction from the Administration was irresponsible and the concern that that reaction is doing more harm than good moving forward on the peace process, and not just towards Israel; the concern that this family feud is presenting a bad portrait towards Iran seeing a disunified front.
And then also, if I could ask if you could give some reaction to the suggestion that the U.S.-Israeli relations are the worst that they’ve been in 35 years.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t buy that. I’ve been around not that long, but a long time. We have an absolute commitment to Israel’s security. We have a close, unshakable bond between the United States and Israel and between the American Israeli people. We share common values and a commitment to a democratic future for the world and we are both committed to a two-state solution. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to agree. We don’t agree with any of our international partners on everything.
And with respect to the announcement that occurred when the Vice President was there, we’ve expressed our dismay and disappointment. And we have, as I have said earlier, engaged in consultations with our partners in the peace effort, the Israelis and the Palestinians, about the way forward, because we are very committed to achieving the two-state outcome that is the goal. But I think we’ll see what the next days hold and we’re looking forward to Senator Mitchell returning to the region and beginning the proximity talks.
MYLES GEIRAN: (Inaudible) Lara Malone – Irish Times.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, you – Minister Martin said he discussed his visit to Gaza with you. A few days ago in an interview with the Irish Times, Minister Martin compared Sinn Fein with Hamas and said that sooner or later, there will have to be engagement. He also said that what he called the inhumane and unacceptable siege of the Gaza Strip must end. Is Minister Martin right? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we discussed Gaza because the United States has expressed on numerous occasions our concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And we have made it clear in international settings as well as in our bilateral engagements with not only
Israel but the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and others, that we seek to help alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza.
At the same time, we have made clear – and it’s not only the United States making clear but the international community through the Quartet, which consists of the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and Russia – what the conditions would be for Hamas to enter a political process. If Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, pursues a responsible political path, they would certainly be recognized as having a role to play. But in the absence of that, you cannot have an armed resistance group that continues to call for the elimination of Israel as part of a peace process. It’s a contradiction. But they know what they must do, and we have certainly made that clear on numerous occasions.
I don’t think there’s any disagreement between the minister and myself. We want to alleviate the suffering in Gaza and we want to see a political solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But the Palestinian Authority made the decision to deal with Israel, to move forward on a path to peace some years ago, and we would welcome Hamas making the same decision.
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: Just to add to that, I mean, we’ve been very clear and it’s interesting you’ve raised the situation with Sinn Fein. I mean, the fundamental trigger for the engagement back a long time ago was the renunciation of violence, the ceasefire that the IRA declared to facilitate engagement and participation in the overall process. And I made that clear and we’ve consistently made it clear publicly that there has to be a renunciation of violence and there has to be a recognition of Israel. Now, of course, in terms of the Northern peace process is a useful template to look at in terms of how you bring people into a process that ultimately leads to a resolution.
And secondly, I’ve made the point very clearly that, from our perspective, when I mentioned earlier about ensuring that the voice of moderation is enhanced and given strength, it seems to me from my visit to Gaza, as for that, the voice of extremism, to a certain extent, is enhanced and strengthened by the blockade and by the siege. And I think there are other issues in terms of the release of Gilad Shalit, which is very important and should happen as well, which would help to unlock the situation in Gaza. And all parties are working towards that end. But it was clear to me that the voices of moderation are being undermined now, at the moment, within Gaza, and that’s something we need to be very conscious of.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Remarks with Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 16, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. Well, I am delighted to welcome the foreign minister here today. I know this comes a little early, but, Minister Martin, I wish you and the people of Ireland and all people who are connected to the wonderful Irish history and traditions a very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

I had the great honor of representing a very large Irish American citizenry in New York for eight years, and I know well the contributions that Ireland and Irish Americans have made to the United States. They’re so numerous, they’re impossible to quantify. And indeed, we now have a President and a Vice President who trace some of their family roots back to Ireland.

So I am grateful that the foreign minister could join us here today ahead of the holiday tomorrow to acknowledge both the history and friendship that we share, but also the working relationship that we have enjoyed on a number of important issues that are really significant to both the people of Ireland and to Americans.

I told the foreign minister how much we appreciate that strong partnership. And we discussed and had a very productive meeting about a range of issues. Our countries share a vital economic relationship that has created tens of thousands of jobs in Ireland and the United States. We need to coordinate closely to preserve those benefits in the face of global economic challenges.

Ireland also makes significant contributions to global security. Over 800 troops, 10 percent of the country’s armed forces, are currently deployed overseas on peacekeeping missions in Chad, Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and other countries.

And on the subject of conflict prevention, I want to address the recent events in Northern Ireland. As many of you know, this is an issue of great personal concern and commitment to both me and to my husband. It was an honor to work on behalf of peace in Northern Ireland and to do so with the leadership of Senator George Mitchell as our negotiator. I had the privilege of visiting Northern Ireland numerous times to meet with activists from both communities. I spent a lot of time in particular with women, Catholic and Protestant, who were working to build bridges in their own communities, to find common ground as mothers and wives, and to create conditions for peace from the ground up.

Thanks to the brave efforts of government leaders and community activists like the women that I was privileged to know, the people of Northern Ireland, with the strong support of the Government of Ireland and the Government of Great Britain, reached a peace agreement, the Good Friday Agreement, that has delivered more than a decade of calm and progress.

Now, in recent days, a handful of rejectionists have tried to drag the people of Northern Ireland back into a full cycle of violence and retaliation. The recent attacks which killed two British soldiers and a police officer are an affront to the values of every community, every ethnicity, every religion, and every nation that seeks peace. I want to commend the entire leadership of Northern Ireland as well as the Irish and British governments for their constructive statements and their strong resolve in the face of this attack.

I hope that the recent arrests will bring an end to these tragic events and allow the people of Northern Ireland to continue to move forward not only with the important work of reconciliation, but with prosperity and progress that will redound to the benefit of all. The success of the peace process has consequences that go far beyond Northern Ireland. It provides proof to people everywhere that negotiations, dialogue, reconciliation, diplomacy can end conflicts that have tormented generations. The United States stand with the people of Northern Ireland. We will not let criminals destroy the gains that have been achieved through great courage and sacrifice.

Now, this issue is, of course, only a small facet of our relationship with Ireland. Whether it is supporting the Middle East peace process; strengthening democratic institutions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Western Balkans; promoting human rights; finding solutions to the global financial crisis and climate change; working together on development, we know Ireland is and will remain a strong and steady partner and leader. We share responsibilities, a common agenda, and a proud history.

So Minister Martin, I am grateful for your friendship and for the friendship that you represent on behalf of your country, and I look forward to working with you as we address these and other challenges.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: Thank you very much indeed, Secretary of State, and may I say that it’s a particular pleasure for me and indeed a privilege to be here with you and to have the opportunity to have our first bilateral meeting here in Washington.

I think you will agree that our meeting was substantive, it was productive, and very fruitful. And indeed, I, of course, congratulated Secretary of State Clinton on her recent appointment and, of course, said all of us in Ireland look forward to working with you in the months and indeed in the years ahead.

It is especially appropriate that the meeting should take place on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, when Ireland again has been honored so warmly here in Washington. And indeed there’s a special bond of friendship between Ireland and the United States, and again this is reflected, I think, in the very generous way in which St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated here today and tomorrow in Washington and indeed across the United States itself.

Secretary Clinton has been an extraordinary friend of Ireland and continues to be. For many years you’ve played a key role in our peace process, as you’ve just articulated, and you’ve been a frequent visitor to Ireland over the years. Your engagement at a political and civic level, particularly in terms of developing political awareness among women’s groups in Northern Ireland, was particularly important and earned you the greatest respect on the island of Ireland and indeed amongst our Irish American community here in the United States. And of course, we look forward very much indeed to welcoming you to Ireland for an official visit at an early opportunity.

In addition to that, we did discuss, of course, the situation in Northern Ireland, including the tragic events of last – of the past week, when three lives were needlessly and senselessly lost as a result of unacceptable and criminal attacks by dissidents. We – what has emerged from the past week, as I spoke and discussed with Secretary Clinton, has been a very strong unity of purpose from both the Irish and the British Government and indeed from all of the political parties on the island of Ireland. It has demonstrated a very significant unity of purpose in ensuring that we will never go back to the bad old days and that we’re very anxious to build on the political momentum and develop very strong political structures and community structures to ensure the continuation and the enhancement of the extraordinary achievements of the past ten years. And of course, America has been particularly important in relation to those achievements.

In terms of the ongoing bilateral relationship that we – Secretary Clinton has expressed interest in the new strategic framework that the Taoiseach announced last evening, which will in many ways be the framework for the development of our relationship with the United States in the decades ahead. And we want to work on quite a number of those issues into the future, not least in developing bilateral frameworks whereby young Irish people can come to America and indeed young Americans can come to Ireland to work and to study and to learn more about each other’s cultures and experiences. And in that context, we look forward to working bilaterally on issues such as development and other issues where we can add value to the world by working in partnership.

I wish to pay tribute to Secretary Clinton’s intensive engagement with the international community over the past few weeks. We look forward to the United States assuming a strong and progressive global leadership role in the years ahead. And already within the European Union community, there is strong anticipation, excited anticipation about the relationship that will develop across the Atlantic between the European Union and indeed the United States.

We’ve discussed, as the Secretary of State said, issues pertaining to the Middle East, to Afghanistan, to global economic downturn, and developments within the European Union itself. We welcome your very energetic engagement in the pursuit of a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East. And of course, we were particularly warm in our welcome of the appointment of Senator George Mitchell as Middle East envoy, a person who did an enormous amount of work for Ireland in developing the peace process back in Ireland. And anywhere we’ve gone in the Middle East, we have made it very clear a man of integrity, a man of fairness, and a man who listens has been appointed to a very sensitive post. And that speaks volumes in terms of your commitment to the resolution of that issue. And indeed, if we can be of any assistance in that regard, given our own experiences, we’re only too willing to provide such assistance.

We look forward to tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day. I was intrigued by the Secretary of State Clinton’s memories of the capacity of the Irish to party in a unique way – (laughter) – and she interrogated the Ambassador in terms of where the real parties were going to be tomorrow evening. (Laughter.) And I think, you know, we’re looking forward to it, and the Taoiseach – and the meeting between President Obama and the Taoiseach tomorrow as well, which of course is the highlight of the remarkable celebration of our national day in the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister Martin.

MR. WOOD: We’ll take a couple of questions. The first one is to Elise Labott of CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary. On Pakistan, I’d like to talk to you about your message to Pakistan over the weekend, which certainly seemed to help, at least, calm the situation. What sort of pressure did you apply to Pakistan? Did you warn that Congress may not be forthcoming with aid if the political turmoil continues? And given the political turmoil, can you say that the government is stable and are you concerned that it’s distracted from the very important task at hand at fighting the war on terrorism? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, the Pakistanis themselves resolved the difficulties that were manifest over the last several days. The work that was done by our Ambassador Anne Patterson and the Embassy staff, along with our Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and his staff, was, I think, very helpful in both working with the Pakistani leaders themselves and in keeping our government informed. I did speak with both President Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. And I believe that the resolution that they have agreed upon is the first step of what has to be an ongoing reconciliation and compromising of political views that can stabilize civilian democracy and the rule of law, both of which are essential to the efforts that the Pakistanis themselves see as so critical; namely, preventing extremism and violence from stalking the Pakistani people and the country.

So we are going to continue our very close working relationship with the government and a number of Pakistani leaders in the days and weeks ahead. We have another trilateral meeting scheduled a few months off. So there will be an ongoing effort to make our services available and to help the Pakistanis fight against our common enemy.

QUESTION: Are you worried that (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think they understand what’s at stake.

MODERATOR: Last question is from Denis Coghlan of the Irish Times.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Denis, how are you?

QUESTION: Very well. Thank you, Madame Secretary. The Administration has asked a number of European countries, including Ireland, to help with the resettlement of detainees in Guantanamo Bay. I wanted to ask you, first, how important is our help with that issue? And secondly, what would you say to European citizens who say that Guantanamo was an American creation that most Europeans didn’t approve of, and that the United States really has the responsibility to resolve the problems it created?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the President has made it clear that we will close Guantanamo. That is a position that was widely advocated by Europeans, both European governments and the EU, as well as European citizens from, I guess, every country. We believe that that is the right step for the United States to take, and we are going through our process now to evaluate the disposition with respect to each detainee.

But it is clear that we will need help because many of the detainees cannot safely, for themselves or others, be sent back to the countries from which they came. There are some countries that have made it very clear if the detainees are returned that they will face consequences; imprisonment, for example. So we need help to avoid the human rights problems that might arise with the release and resettlement of the detainees. And we are trying to do the best we can with the problem that we inherited, and that certainly is something that Europe, from one end to the other, called upon us to do. So we would hope to have the cooperation of European governments.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTIN: First of all, we warmly welcomed the decision to close Guantanamo, and indeed Ireland was one of the first countries out calling for its closure. And it has been welcomed warmly across the European Union. And as I have said, and I’m on the record publicly as saying, that given the fact that we called for the closure of Guantanamo, we have – there’s a compelling logic to being responsive to the situation and to see what – where we can help in – within the context of the European Union as well, because we do believe that Europe is working on this at the moment, and I understand that the European Union is engaged with the Administration in terms of information and so on. And I know it will be the subject matter of discussions perhaps tomorrow as well between the President and the Taoiseach, so I’m not going to preempt anything the Taoiseach may say.

But we’re a friend of America and we will respond to the issues as they emerge. And we’ve made it clear that we want to be positive in our engagement on this issue with the Administration.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We appreciate that.

MR. WOOD: Thank you all very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: One – you want one more on each side?

MR. WOOD: Sure.


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, how do you respond to criticism from Senators McCain and Graham and Brownback that Chris Hill is – does not have the experience necessary to become ambassador in Baghdad? He doesn’t have the experience in the Arab countries. And they also allege that he doesn’t have the negotiating skills necessary, and they point to the recent deadlock in the negotiations with North Korea as an example.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, obviously, I think both of those criticisms are unjustified and unfounded. Chris Hill is a distinguished, experienced diplomat who has served in some very difficult positions on behalf of our country. Another very distinguished, experienced diplomat, John Negroponte, was our ambassador to Iraq. He did not have Middle East or Arabic language skills when he was sent to Iraq. I believe the people you’ve just mentioned, my former colleagues, all voted for former Deputy Secretary Negroponte. So I think on the experience basis, he is not only very well-qualified in terms of running a large embassy, helping to deal with the myriad of issues that will arise as we conduct our withdrawal, but we’ll have around him, as any ambassador does, people who have particular skills and expertise.

With respect to the North Korean mission that we believe Ambassador Hill carried out with great persistence and success despite some difficult challenges, this is a hard set of challenges to meet. And it is our perspective that he made a lot of lemonade out of some pretty bad lemons, and he was able to get the North Koreans on record as agreeing to certain obligations. We now have to follow through on those obligations.

So our assessment, which we believe is rooted in the facts, may be different from those who, you know, are rightfully distressed with and extremely critical of North Korean actions on human rights, on their continuing effort to obtain nuclear weapons, on their belligerence and their provocative actions. But that is something that is not in any way reflective of the job that Chris Hill did in the Six-Party Talks, where we think he did a very good job.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: A question for the Secretary of State. You had strong words there for the dissidents in Northern Ireland. Can I just ask —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Not dissidents, not – I’m all in favor of dissidents. I’m not in favor of criminals.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, your strong words, how – I just want to ask how you felt personally last week when you saw the events unfolding. And just secondly on that, you’ve been asked to make an official visit at the earliest opportunity.


QUESTION: When do you think that will be and will President Obama be coming with you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, I told the minister that unfortunately, my colleagues in the State Department know my great affection for Ireland and they’re somewhat skeptical that it’s a work job for me to go. So I’m working that through. I will get there at my earliest opportunity.

I think like all people who value peace and who know what it’s like to feel secure sending your, you know, son to the store or waiting for your husband to come home from work, those days were thankfully behind us. And so when these criminal elements, these rejectionists, determined to kill and try to set the communities against one another in Northern Ireland again, to relive the troubles and the bad days that everyone worked so hard to resolve, it was distressing.

But I was immediately heartened by the response across Northern Ireland, indeed, the island of Ireland with people speaking out against the murders and the violence and the provocation that these actions represented. I particularly appreciated the very strong statements of Northern Ireland’s leaders from both communities. So I believe this did, as the minister said, fortunately foil the efforts of the criminal elements to try to provoke violence again. In fact, it did show a unity of purpose, a commitment to a positive future.

Now that doesn’t mean all of the problems are over and all of the difficulties that people live with day-to-day – the minister and I talked about some of the economic issues that we wanted to help address in Northern Ireland. But it did, in a resounding way, demonstrate a commitment to peace that touched my heart and was incredibly moving to me.

Thank you all.


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Ya gotta love her, trying to find out where the good parties are. Come to my house, Hillary!
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Remarks With Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams Before Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 17, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m delighted to welcome Gerry Adams to the State Department. I was delighted also to meet with him, I think, every year as a senator from New York. And I’m looking forward to meeting with him and other officials of Northern Ireland and the British Government today as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and we talk about how we’re going to continue to support the devolution of power and authority and the peace and prosperity of the island of Ireland.
Thank you all.
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Remarks With Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shaun Woodward Before Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 17, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I am pleased to welcome the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland here for our meeting on this St. Patrick’s Day where we are deeply connected between not only Ireland and – the island of Ireland and the United States, but of course the United Kingdom and its very progressive and positive role in moving Northern Ireland along the path toward lasting peace and prosperity.
SECRETARY WOODWARD: Well, I’d like to thank the Secretary of State for being kind enough to see me and my colleagues from Northern Ireland today on St. Patrick’s Day, which of course, is a really important day for us all to celebrate.
It’s been a testing time in Northern Ireland in the last week. But the extraordinary thing is how not only the government in Britain and Ireland have come behind the political parties in such an easy way, but how the political parties in Northern Ireland have responded and united (inaudible) this.
And I’d just like to thank the American Government for everything you’ve done, the investment and the political support, because we really do have the most great opportunities in Northern Ireland, and we couldn’t have got there without the help of America. And it’s a great chance now for us to see real prosperity for the people there and lasting peace.
So thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

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Remarks With Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State, Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 17, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. Well, I am very pleased to be here this afternoon with two men who have really proven what leadership means and demonstrated clearly courage and commitment: First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
I want to begin by saying how pleased I am personally to welcome them here. I have known Peter and Martin for a number of years and have seen them take responsibility for the future of the people of Northern Ireland in a way that has inspired confidence and created a real opportunity for people not only in the United States, but around the world to look to Northern Ireland and to see the progress there. Of course, it’s St. Patrick’s Day and they are here on this occasion, but they are no strangers to either Washington or the State Department. And I know how important our relationship is to continue to support those who work for peace.
In addition to the discussion that I just concluded with the first minister and the deputy first minister, I have had excellent conversations with others as well who you have seen starting yesterday and continuing through today.
Northern Ireland has made such remarkable progress since the signing of the Good Friday Accord. We’ve had more than a decade of peace and progress and prosperity for many. Recent acts of violence cannot be allowed to undermine that progress and the progress that is yet to come as these two leaders and those who work with them continue to move into the future. The violence that has occurred with the killing of the two young soldiers and the police officer are an affront to the values of every community, every person who believes in the power of peace and reconciliation.
The two men standing on either side of me led Northern Ireland through the last days in a commendable manner. Along with the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom, they have confronted these acts of violence with boldness and statesmanship. And they have responded to actions intended to sow fear and division with unity and courage.
So we are here after ten years of peace, and we’re committed to looking forward to a future where we, the United States, working with them, can create a better life so that every child growing up in Northern Ireland has a chance to live up to his or her God-given potential.
The State Department and the Obama Administration will be actively engaged in assisting the leadership of Northern Ireland. And this is not a subject of passing interest, but of surpassing interest. During my time as First Lady, during my time as senator from New York, I have been privileged to see the people of Northern Ireland move in a direction that has given so much hope to so many, including those far beyond their own boundaries.
So I want to thank the first minister and the deputy first minister, and now let me turn to the first minister for any comments he wishes to make.
FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: Thank you very much. At the very outset, I want to express my appreciation and the appreciation of all of the people of Northern Ireland to Secretary Clinton. Hillary has been a good friend of Northern Ireland, a great friend of the process in which we have been involved. We were delighted to hear in our meeting which has just concluded that that is going to be an ongoing interest. We’re looking for excuses to bring her to Northern Ireland, and we’re delighted to hear that the Obama Administration is looking to bring an envoy to continue to partner with us, and indeed to have a particular emphasis with someone looking after the issue of the economy.
The deputy first minister and I have had a difficult period of time. I think that anybody who has followed recent events will know that there was a single purpose on the part of those who carried out those dreadful acts. They intended to divide us. They intended to drag Northern Ireland back into conflict. Their hopes were that the work of the politicians in the assembly and in the executive would begin to fray and that the institutions would crumble and fall.
They have not succeeded, and they will not succeed. There is a massive determination, not just on the part of the deputy first minister and myself, but I was delighted to see it from every single political party. There was no party political bickering on the issue. Every politician stepped up to the line and made it clear their denunciation of the incidents and also their determination that they were not going back.
It is that determination not simply not to go back or to stand still, but to drive us forward, to complete the tasks that we have set our hand to, and to bring Northern Ireland to that place where it has a stable political and economic future, where prosperity is a daily diet of our people. It is that hope that drives us forward, and it is that hope that I believe we have the full support of the people of Northern Ireland in realizing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: Well, if I could say that it’s an incredible good fortune for all of us on the island of Ireland and the north that Hillary Clinton has been appointed the new Secretary of State. She has for many, many years, alongside her husband, been a true friend of all of us, a true friend of the peace process, contributing tremendously to the transformation that has taken place over the course of the last number of years. And what has been really encouraging about this visit and the meeting that we’ve just come from is that it’s quite clear that she is surrounded by people who have a tremendous insight into our situation, going back many, many years. I find that tremendously encouraging, and we’re excited about our meeting with President Obama this morning and the things we heard from him and his reiteration of his commitment to help us within the process, continuing, I must say, a long line of important contributions from the United States of America.
And what we’ve heard just now in the course of our meeting with Secretary Clinton further encourages us that we will see the appointment of an envoy who will make their own particular contribution, also following in a long line of envoys who have been tremendously supportive for all of us.
And we talked about the economy because we believe that economic development is of critical importance, and our program for government identified the development of the economy as a key priority for all of us. And there has been a long tradition of American companies investing on the island of Ireland and in the north of Ireland, and our visit here and the West Coast, and we’ve been to Los Angeles, Peter’s been to Chicago, I’ve been to New York, and we’re now in Washington. Everywhere we went, it was quite clear that people were very tuned in to what had happened in our country and indeed at the time of those incidents were very shocked that it did happen.
But that shock quickly gave way to a bigger story, and the bigger story was the unity which Peter has just spoken about, not just between himself and myself, but between all of the parties recognizing that this represented a real challenge to our process by people who are dedicated to destroy the peace process, dedicated to the demolition of the political institutions, and absolutely dedicated to plunging our community. And we don’t speak about two communities. We represent – although we represent different parties, we represent one community in the north of Ireland, and we are not going to allow our community to be plunged into mayhem and destruction by people who have no support, no mandate whatsoever, and no right whatsoever to attack the peace that the people of Ireland as a whole and in the north voted for in the referendum in the aftermath of the Good Friday upheaval.
So I’m actually moving forward on all of this with tremendous confidence about the future, confidence in that we are united, that we are supported by the Irish Government and the British Government, and by a very strong Administration here in the United States of America led by President Obama and Hillary Clinton. So we will leave Washington incredibly buoyed up by the encouragement and support that we’ve received here, and I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to you, Hillary, and to President Obama and all those in all of the political parties on Capitol Hill who have stood by us through thick and thin.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there are predictions of really catastrophic conditions in Darfur because of the president of Sudan’s expulsion of aid groups and apparent intention to shut them down completely. And I’m wondering what can the international community do about this. Will this in any way speed the appointment of another special envoy, a U.S. envoy to Sudan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have been deeply engaged in determining what we can do, because this is a horrendous situation that is going to cause untold misery and suffering for the people of Darfur, particularly those in the refugee camps. There will be a special envoy appointed for Sudan in the coming days. But the real question is what kind of pressure can be brought to bear on President Bashir and the government in Khartoum to understand that they will be held responsible for every single death that occurs in those camps, because by their expulsion of the aid workers, who came from all over the world to assist with the health and the sanitation and the security and the education of the refugees, they are putting those 1.4 million lives at risk.
And for those governments that support President Bashir’s decision to expel the aid workers, they have a responsibility to persuade the government in Sudan to change its decision to let the aid workers back in, or they must replace with money and personnel those who have been expelled, so that innocent lives are not lost and further undermined.
So we take this very seriously. We are looking for the most effective ways to convince and demonstrate to the Government of Sudan that they have now assumed an even greater sense of responsibility and infamy in the eyes of the world by turning their backs on these refugees whom they created in the first place. So we hope that either by the internal processes of the Sudanese Government or pressure brought to bear by the supporters of President Bashir and that government, the decision is reversed, or at the very least, the money and the personnel are replaced.
MODERATOR: Jim Dee from the Belfast Telegraph.
QUESTION: Thank you. This is a question for Madame Secretary and also the first and deputy first ministers.
Madame Secretary, as my colleague pointed out, there are many serious problems in the world. Northern Ireland has enjoyed top-level attention from the White House for many years now. When Barack Obama was running against John McCain, he indicated that he may revisit the appointing of an envoy. How long can the White House, in the highest levels of the U.S. Government, stay engaged in Northern Ireland? Will there be a time when they will not?
And to the first and deputy first ministers, you are here on an economic investment journey to try to find companies that will invest in Northern Ireland. The global economy right now is in a very serious state. How contingent on economic progress and stability is political stability in Northern Ireland?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to your first question, we waited until we had the opportunity to consult with the leaders of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland about the best way to structure our relationship going forward. And it has been a unanimous agreement that having this high-level attention from the United States Government provides a real value to the ongoing peace process and to the economic aspects of, you know, anchoring peace in the soil where people can actually see the fruits of that effort.
So we will be appointing a special envoy. We’ll be appointing someone who will pay attention to the economic investment side of this. You know, there’s a great sense of affinity between the United States and the Irish, and it’s something that I take very personally as well as professionally as part of my responsibilities. It’s not only that we have many millions – about 44 million, which I think is an undercount – of Irish Americans, but it is the fact that we formed this deep relationship. And we are there to help; we’re not there to do anything other than support the decisions that these extraordinary leaders make.
But if we are needed, if we provide value, we will continue to support this process. It is gaining strength every day. As both Peter and Martin said, the reaction not just by the leaders, but the people in Northern Ireland to the murders last week demonstrated how firmly anchored peace is. But there are still some bumps along the road.
And before I turn to Peter to answer your second question, you know, the Northern Ireland economy is doing better than a lot of economies right now, so I think it is quite attractive for people who understand that we will work our way through this global economic crisis we’re in right now, and there will be opportunities for investments. And I think Peter and Martin are absolutely right to be out talking about the advantages of investing in Northern Ireland right now.
FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: Secretary Clinton is right. Northern Ireland does have a deep and special relationship with the United States as part of a secret deal. The deal is that as we have supplied you with 15 presidents that we will continue to do that. (Laughter.)
And we continue to get support from the leadership of the United States. It’s working well for both of us, I think. The economy of Northern Ireland is critical and is critical to the overall process in which we’re engaged. We want to be able to show people that having local control can make a difference. And it only makes a difference to them if they feel it themselves. And therefore, it has to be able to – raise everybody hopes, it has to get into every section of our community. And the economy is the one way that you can do that, you can make people feel better, you can make people feel that this is working.
Of course, we, relatively speaking, are weathering the economic storm better than many. And we have an unemployment rate to which I think most European countries and the United States would be happy with, at just about 5 percent. But we want to go up the food chain in terms of the type of jobs that we have in Northern Ireland. And we’re looking at high-end engineering, financial and businesses services, IT, creative industries. Those are the areas that we are wanting to grow in Northern Ireland. And we can provide businesses in the United States, even in these hard times, with a good reason to come to Northern Ireland, where you get the highest skills at the lowest cost.
So yeah, we do want to improve our economy. It’s important for the overall process. And we believe that the United States has something that it can give Northern Ireland, but Northern Ireland has something that it can give back.
DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: Well, I think it is very important that people benefit from the fruits of the peace process. And reiterating what Peter said, our relationship with the United States of America is rock solid. We have connections going back here centuries, and the bonds between us are very strong. And I believe that in the future, we will continue to see investment from the United States of America and the island of Ireland and specifically also in the North. And Peter and I have been tremendously encouraged by the messages that we’ve had over the course of the last short while.
In terms of the whole issue of the connection between the economic situation and the issue of political stability, let me say this. The institutions are, in my opinion, stronger and more stable now in the aftermath of the three killings than they were before. And that should send a very powerful message to those who people who were responsible for those killings. And the message is that we are not going to buckle under this pressure, but we are going to continue to do our jobs, knowing that we have got the overwhelming support of our people, people who too want to benefit for their own sakes, for the sakes of their children, and those yet unborn.
So this is about providing a better future and a better history and this is about recognizing the damage that was done to our Island and to ourselves as individuals by the past that some of us have experienced. So what we have to do is – the key point is to give leadership. That’s what it’s all about.
I attended two very important conferences in a forest in Helsinki, alongside Jeffery Donaldson of the Democratic Unionist Party, alongside Cyril Ramaphosa from South Africa and Roelf Meyer. And there were many white boards and there were many black boards in attendance. And many words were written on the boards and many words were spoken. I wrote one word on the board when I addressed the Kurds, the Shia and the Sunnis, and that word was “leadership.” That’s what is required in the north of Ireland, that’s what’s required in the Middle East, that’s what’s required in Iraq, that’s what’s required in Afghanistan and in many other places throughout the world.
The benefit we had was that we had leaders who understood the need to forge an agreement, who didn’t want to be part of a process that saw the misery of the past inflected on future generations. And so I think – I would like to think that we have given strong leadership and that we have given a very powerful message – not just to our own people on the island of Ireland or in the North, but to the world – that the only way forward in situations where there is conflict and dispute is to sit down like sensible, reasonable human beings, forge agreements, and we have done that.
I mean, people have said to me, for example, what is different now in relation to what these people are doing and at a time whenever the IRA were involved in a conflict, which I supported, against the British Army? The difference is we have the Good Friday Agreement. The difference is we have all of the parties coming together, forming an inclusive government supported by the Irish Government, supported by the British Government and the U.S. Administration and the full width of international opinion, but more important than all of that, supported by the people, by ordinary housewives, workers, parents, people who have invested a tremendous amount and us as politicians, to give strong leadership and build a better future for them and for their children.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. Thank you all.

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