Remarks With First Minister of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
March 19, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a great pleasure to welcome back to Washington and here to the State Department the first minister and the deputy first minister from Northern Ireland. I have had the great honor of working with these gentlemen for a number of years and have been so impressed at the progress that they are making together. And we look forward to a very close and continuing relationship, and I just can’t thank you both enough for the leadership and the great example that you are setting for the people who you represent but also far beyond.


FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: Well, again, we’re delighted to accept Secretary Clinton’s hospitality. She’s been a very good friend of Northern Ireland. Martin and I are particularly glad to be here because there was an election between when we last met, her and I, and we’ve come back with a reinforced mandate. We’re looking forward to giving details to the Secretary of State of the progress that we’re making in Northern Ireland. We’ve agreed our Programme for Government, our budget, our investment strategy, our economic strategy. We’ve got major reforms on the way and help for local government and in education.

So, it’s normal foreign politics and boring is good for Northern Ireland.


FIRST MINISTER ROBINSON: So we’re making real progress and we look forward to continuing our discussions with the Administration.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As well, that’s exactly right.


DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER MCGUINNESS: This is also a great opportunity for Peter and myself to express our deepest thanks and appreciation for the incredible support that we’ve received from Secretary of State Clinton and also from President Obama. They have been very staunch supporters of the peace process. And it’s great for us, in the aftermath of the election that Peter has just spoken about, to be able to come and record the fact that both the peace process and the political process has been considerably strengthened as a result of that election last year.

And as Peter has also said, we are very involved in the very important work of the economy, the great challenges that exist obviously worldwide but how that impacts on us, a very small part of the world, and the need for us to ensure that we are continuing to engage with our friends here in North America who have been incredibly supportive. The number of (inaudible) jobs that we have brought into the north from companies like the New York Stock Exchange, the Chicago Mercantile, HBO, Citigroup, Allstate – all of these have been providing much needed employment for our people, and that is something for which we are deeply grateful.

Of course, you can’t (inaudible) any of that from the very important economic investment conference that Secretary Clinton hosted here for us not too long ago. So, very important to come here and say how much we admire this woman as a leader and admire her as a true friend of peace and political progress in our part of the world.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks to you both. Thank you all.

PRN: 2012/404