Hillary Clinton Visits Ireland and Northern Ireland
Clinton included the Emerald Isle in her final visits as Secretary of State.
As part of one of her last international trips as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spent two days in Ireland at the beginning of December. Following visits to Prague and Brussels, Clinton landed in Dublin on December 6.
While in the Irish capital, she participated in the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, delivering a key speech on U.S. support of human rights action, visited the Áras for a brief meeting with President Michael D. Higgins, spoke with students at Dublin City University, and gave a joint press conference with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
At the American Embassy in Dublin, Clinton professed that she was “proud to be here in Ireland, representing our country and following the footsteps of President Obama’s incredibly successful trip [in 2011].”
With the Taoiseach, she spoke to America’s appreciation for the difficult times Ireland faces economically. “The view from the United States is the resilience, the hard work, the determination of the Irish people getting up every day and getting the job done,” she said, and reaffirmed the U.S.’s confidence in its economic partnership with Ireland, highlighting the significant fact that U.S. foreign investment in Ireland tops $191 billion, more than American companies have invested in Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined.
The following day Clinton departed for Belfast, where she addressed Stormont, visited the new Titanic Quarter, and attended a lunch by the Worldwide Ireland Funds, who honored her with a lifetime achievement award. Northern Ireland and Belfast in particular have long held a special place in the Secretary of State’s heart since she visited the city in December of 1995, one year after the 1994 ceasefire. Her husband, then president, was the first U.S. commander in chief to set foot in Northern Ireland.
At the Funds lunch, Clinton recalled that visit – one of the seminal steps in the peace process the U.S. would help broker. “We stood behind a bulletproof screen to turn on Belfast’s Christmas lights in front of a vast crowd that stretched so far I could not even find the end of it in any direction,” she said. “It was a moment of such hope. And it has been that image that has kept me going through any challenges that have come across my mind when I think about what lies ahead.”
At Stormont, standing with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Clinton expressed her dismay at the recent spate of violent protests in Belfast over the decision to fly the Union flag over city hall only on special days. “There will always be disagreements in any democratic society,” she said, “but you must not use violence as a means of expressing those strong feelings. The only path forward is a peaceful, democratic one that recognizes the right of others to express their opinions, but not to resort to violence. And there can be no place in the new Northern Ireland for any violence.”
In her address at the Funds luncheon, Clinton pledged that she would continue to support and work with the group in Northern Ireland once she is a private citizen again. Her term as Secretary of State ends with the conclusion of President Obama’s first term in office. With Clinton back in good health after a blood clot scare at the end of December, Northern Ireland will surely be taking her up on that offer.