Tuesday, October 7, 2008

John McCain on Northern Ireland

It appears that Irish America is beginning to turn solidly behind Barack Obama. Irish Americans have traditionally voted democrat but there was a fear that McCain might nudge his way into this constituency as a result of bitter Hillary Clinton supporters, many of whom are Irish Americans, and because of Obama's position on the special envoy to Northern Ireland. However any fear of this trend becoming a more standard pattern is waning mainly thanks to the financial crisis which is hurting McCain big time in the polls. And in an article in The Irish Times yesterday, that was also circulated around the US, former ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smyth, Sister of Jack, Bobby and Ted, illustrated how John McCain consistently opposed Bill Clinton's efforts in Northern Ireland.

Jean Kennedy Smyth, center, was US ambassador to Ireland from 1993 to 1998, pictured here along side John Hume and Liz O'Donnell.

According to the former ambassador, John McCain described Clinton's role in Northern Ireland as "mistaken". He vehemently opposed Bill Clinton's decision to grant Gerry Adams a US visa in 1993 and further criticised the Presidents decision to invite the Sinn Fein chief to the White House. Any scholar of the Northern Irish peace process knows that this was a pivotal moment in its success. The process itself has now become a model for conflict resolution throughout the world. Any American that doubts this or wishes to trivialise Clinton's role in Northern Ireland should keep in mind the respect an admiration Bill Clinton earned for himself and his country throughout Ireland and Europe for his Irish endeavour. They should further remember that this respect paid dividends in countless ways to the benefit of American national interest. This as we know was completely undone by the Bush administration.

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