Meeting with Staff and Families of Consulate General Belfast

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Aldergrove Military Airport
Belfast, Northern Ireland
December 7, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a great pleasure to be here again, and I want to personally thank each and every one of you for the work that you are doing here. Let me start by thanking the Ambassador. Lou, thank you so much for your leadership and your indefatigable approach toward representing our country throughout the United Kingdom. And let me thank you, Consul General, for your leadership. I know it’s been a tough but exciting year in 2012. And we are grateful. I know you’ve only been here at the helm just a few months, but you’ve done an outstanding job. And Natalie, I want to thank you as well. You’ve become an integral member of the community, and your – what I’m told is your late-night dinners and your dog therapy – (laughter) – your border collie, Sam.

Well, I was here the first time 17 years ago this month, when we took a significant step toward trying to assist in the peace process, and it’s a real joy to be back here 17 years later. And the work we’ve done over those 17 years would not have been possible without all of you. This is a group that I’m told makes it a habit of punching above your weight. You may be small, but you are mighty. There’s only 24 of you, but you seem to be everywhere simultaneously and continuing our work to support peace and reconciliation. This requires vigilance, and that vigilance is something that we count on you to provide.

Then you’ve got the G-8 summit with President Obama coming to Northern Ireland for the very first time. There also is a large sporting event in the work, VIP visits, and so much more. And thanks to you for going to London to lend a hand every so often, like during the Olympics, which I know you did.

I am grateful to you, American and Irish alike, because this is a place that is very important to the American people. There’s a lot of – as I said yesterday in Dublin – a lot of connections with the whole island of Ireland. And as Peter Robinson never ceases to remind me, a lot of presidents came from here. (Laughter.) I’m not quite sure all the ones he’s counting, but I think that’s true. (Laughter.)

So can I have the Irish staff raise your hand for just a minute, all the Irish staff? Excellent. And who is Lorna? (Laughter.) Lorna, I’m told you’ve been here over 20 years.


SECRETARY CLINTON: So what did we do, take you out of grammar school? (Laughter.)

PARTICIPANT: Fifty next year. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, that’s excellent. Well, both to our locally employed staff here and our great American staff, thank you. And it’s a small enough group that I want to shake everybody’s hand. (Laughter.) I usually can’t say that. But I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, and have a great Happy New Year. And it’s been a real honor serving with you. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRN: 2012/T75-13