In a speech to the National Gala of the American Ireland fund and on the eve of St. Patrick's Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton thanked the Republic of Ireland for its enduring friendship and partnership. With regard to Northern Ireland, Secretary Clinton welcomed approval of the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast –- the last piece of the devolution process.
Irish troops are in Afghanistan working to establish security and create the conditions for long-term stability. Ireland has also demonstrated its commitment to solving another urgent global need: hunger and food insecurity. "As the Irish know from [their] own history," said Secretary Clinton, "the failure of an agricultural system can crumble an economy and cause terrible human suffering." In spite of challenging economic times in Ireland, the government has committed 20 percent of its assistance budget toward ending global hunger. In September, the U.S. and Ireland will co-host a conference on food security.
Turning her attention to Northern Ireland, Secretary Clinton said the devolution agreement will help create a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. But Secretary Clinton cautioned that "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. 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," said Secretary Clinton.
And so, the U.S. will increase its 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. This process is already bearing fruit. Q1 Labs, a U.S.-based developer of security intelligence software, recently announced that it is setting up its European, Middle East and Africa headquarters in Belfast, bringing fifty new jobs with it.
Completing the devolution process could not have been achieved without courageous political leadership in Northern Ireland and the full support of the governments in Dublin and London. The United States will continue to support the leaders of Northern Ireland as they shoulder these new responsibilities.