The following statement by Hillary Clinton on Ireland is taken from a press release issued for St Patrick’s Day.
Today, Hillary Clinton joined with Irish-Americans at Saint Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations in Scranton and Pittsburgh. Her visit came on the heels of a meeting with the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Shaun Woodward, where she discussed the status of the peace process, the work of the new devolved government, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for Northern Ireland.
As President, Hillary is committed to achieving lasting peace and reconciliation and to supporting the Northern Ireland government, building on her 13 years of working for peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland.
“As the 10-year anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement approaches, I salute the brave and tireless efforts of the parties to the pact, and the contributions of so many citizens to the resolution of the conflict and the achievement of peace,” said Clinton. “As President, my administration will deepen and strengthen ties between the United States and Northern Ireland, and between the people of the United States and those who live on the island of Ireland.”
Hillary’s presidential agenda builds on her long record. She traveled to Northern Ireland seven times between 1995 and 2004, and gave what Northern Irish leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume recently described as “decisive support” to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Her work at the grassroots and behind-the-scenes helped cultivate the conditions necessary for the peace to take hold and last.
In fact, in recent days several people deeply involved in the peace process noted Hillary Clinton’s contributions. For example, in a recent interview in the Irish Times, Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, said, “Senator Clinton played an important role in the peace process...I met the senator on many occasions when she was First Lady, and subsequently when she became a senator for New York State. I always found her to be extremely well informed on the issues.”
In an article published this week in the Irish-American paper, Irish Voice, Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland said, “She made a huge contribution towards lifting the esteem of women in our society by the fact of seeing someone of such high office taking an interest and concern in them. I think the events in Ireland at that time were incredible and remarkable and she certainly played an important part.”
As President, she will:
The Obama campaign has claimed Clinton has exaggerated her role in the Irish peace process and issued a statement this week rebutting Clinton’s claims about her involvement. Meanwhile, Democratic congressmen Neal, McCarthy, and Crowley have called on Senator Obama to issue a statement “to address the issues important to Irish-American voters”.
The following is Senator’s Obama’s most recent statement on Ireland, dating from February last year.
“My family’s story may be familiar to Irish Americans -- a distant homeland, a journey across an ocean in search of opportunity. Like many Americans of Irish descent, I too have made the journey to my family’s homeland.
“In 1987, I first traveled to Kenya, the birthplace of my father. I discovered a warm sense of community. I discovered a land with an unforgettably haunting beauty. I discovered a people determined to grab hold of hope. In short, I made discoveries that are familiar to scores of Irish Americans.
“The determined optimism of the Irish people has enabled them to grab hold of hope in the United States, from South Boston to the south side of Chicago. It’s an optimism expressed in three issues so important to Irish Americans today: a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, an American immigration policy that keeps faith with our tradition of offering opportunity to those who seek it, and strong economic and cultural ties between our two nations.
“As I chair the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Europe, and as I travel around the country learning from and listening to the American people, I will be advancing ideas and policies to meet these goals.
“After years of hard-earned progress, Northern Ireland is now poised to take another step forward. The IRA has abandoned violence and arms and Sinn Féin has now voted to support the PSNI. They have, in the words of Tony Blair, made a commitment that ‘has been historic and has been real.’
“To seize this hopeful moment, the Democratic Unionist party should take the next step outlined in the St. Andrew’s agreement: a commitment to a power-sharing executive after March elections, so Northern Ireland can continue the process of peace that its people so clearly wish to follow.
“The gains of the last decade were in part made possible by U.S. engagement. Going forward, we should continue the practice of having a special envoy for Northern Ireland, and the our president should personally engage on where America can play a constructive role, working closely with the Irish Taoiseach, the British prime minister, and party leaders in Northern Ireland.
“We must also pursue immigration policies that keep open the doors of opportunity in our own country. My father’s experience has informed my own views on the issue, and I have seen the enormous contributions that Irish immigrants have made to this country. Last summer, I joined hundreds of thousands of people in Chicago to march on behalf of immigration reform, walking shoulder to shoulder with many Irish Americans who shared their own personal stories of hope and opportunity.
“Yet our system is broken, and fixing it demands a comprehensive approach. Last year, I reached across the aisle to work with Republicans on this. Our proposal would strengthen border security and prohibit employers from hiring illegal immigrants, but it also recognizes that the deportation of 12 million people is impossible.
“That’s why it proposes a tough, earned path to citizenship for those in the United States illegally; replaces the flood of undocumented workers with a new flow of guestworkers; and ensures that law-abiding immigrants are welcome to pursue their dreams.
“The ties between America and Ireland go far beyond bloodlines. U.S. investment in Ireland helped create the Celtic Tiger, and Ireland’s economic success has in turn led to a boom in Irish investment in the United States. Incalculable cultural exchanges draw us together, as do common causes and common beliefs.
“In 1963, John F. Kennedy made his own journey in reverse and addressed the Irish Parliament. He cited the principles that unite our countries, quoting George Bernard Shaw’s command to ‘dream of things that never were, and ask why not,’ and paying tribute to an Ireland that ‘sent their doctors and technicians and soldiers and priests to help other lands to keep their liberty alive.’
“Today, President Kennedy would be pleased - but not surprised - to find the Irish working to lift up other lands from east Africa to east Asia, and to find an Ireland that has come so very far on its own. The story of our two countries is constantly evolving and joined together. I welcome this opportunity to be a part of that story, and look forward to hearing your concerns in the months ahead.”