Clinton travels frequently to Ireland as First Lady and as U.S. Secretary of State, and often talks about the end of the civil strife, known as The Troubles, as a crowning foreign policy achievement of her husband’s administration. On her visit to Belfast in 2012, she pledges to continue to support peace in Ireland in whatever way possible.
“Hillary Rodham Clinton is one of the unsung heroes of the success of the Irish peace process,” says Niall O’Dowd, publisher of Irish America magazine. “As First Lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State she always gave the issue top priority to help ensure it remained at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. During that historic first trip to Northern Ireland with Bill Clinton in 1995, which I was privileged to be on, she galvanized women’s groups on both sides by meeting with them, shaping their agenda, and making sure they always had a friend in the U.S. administration. More than that, she constantly stayed involved, never giving up her focus on bringing an end to Europe’s longest conflict at the time.”
On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, Clinton delivers the keynote address at the luncheon in Manhattan of high profile Irish-Americans who each year honor elected officials and others. She describes sitting at a table in Belfast, over cups of tea, with women from both sides of the conflict and watching as they discover how much they share.
She does not portray herself as instrumental to the Good Friday Agreement that President Clinton brokered in 1998, but says her outreach to women in Belfast on multiple visits during that period had played a critical role.
“You cannot bring peace and security to people just by signing an agreement,” she says. “In fact, most peace agreements don’t last.” She says that when “the work of peace permeates down to the kitchen table, to the backyard, to the neighborhood, around cups of tea, there’s a much greater chance the agreement will hold.”
Previous inductees into the Irish America Hall of Fame include former President John F. Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who addressed the luncheon in 2014 in a mix of English and Irish.