Monday, March 16, 2009

Hillary Condemns Violence in Northern Ireland

On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, Secretary Clinton had a meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin this morning and held a joint news conference after.

She praised the united response of leaders in Northern Ireland as well as Britain and Ireland, saying the province was of "great personal concern and commitment to both me and to my husband."

She had a strong opinion on the violent opponents of the peace process in Northern Ireland. She said this:

"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... 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."
Clinton also cut off a reporter who referred to opponents of the peace process as dissidents, saying "Not dissidents. I'm all in favor of dissidents, I'm not in favor of criminals."

On a lighter note, the Irish Foreign Minister said this to laughter from the audience: "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 – and she interrogated the Ambassador in terms of where the real parties were going to be tomorrow evening."

Later in the day, it was reported that Hillary met with three Northern Irish officials: Shaun Woodward, secretary of state; Peter Robinson, first minister; and Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister.

Read the full remarks here or watch below:

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