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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Remarks of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Northern Ireland Assembly

"We meet at an important time in the history of Northern Ireland. In the 11 years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, you have traveled a long way together on the road to peace. Groups have laid down their weapons. Empty streets are now bustling with activity. And here, in this chamber, men and women who were once sworn enemies work side by side to secure the achievements of recent years, and to deliver a stable, prosperous future for the people you represent.

These accomplishments are remarkable, and a credit to you and to all those who have worked for peace, not only the leaders here at Stormont, but also Westminster and Leinster House. But most importantly, to the thousands of ordinary citizens, mothers and fathers, whose determination to end the Troubles made them fervent activists for peace.

At this time, we can recognize you have traveled a great distance. But you do not need me to tell you that your journey is not yet over. The promise of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement is not yet fully realized. And Northern Ireland is now facing a new challenge with the global economic downturn, which threatens some of the gains that you have made in the past decade.

The value of peace is not only the absence of violence. It is also the presence of new opportunities for investment and jobs, for education and health care, and political participation. So it is critical, in this moment of economic turmoil, to protect the progress you have already achieved, and to build upon it, to ensure that your people continue to enjoy the rewards of peace, and to embrace it for the long term.

Since this assembly was restored two-and-a-half years ago, this devolution has enabled you to work together to enact sensible, necessary reforms on everything from health to housing to environmental safety. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Of course it is difficult. It is the nature of democracy. It is not easy in any legislature, as I know from experience, under the best of circumstances. But in these circumstances, the work you have done is all the more extraordinary.

So, please know that the Obama administration and the United States is committed to helping you finish your journey to put far behind you the long years of division and conflict, to build confidence and trust across all communities and political parties, and to honor the hopes and sacrifices of your people by making whole and permanent Northern Ireland's emerging peace.

Now, we know what it means to be supportive. And we also know what it means to meddle. And I want to be clear that when it comes to the important issue of devolution, of policing and justice, that is a decision for this assembly to make. But as a true friend -- and I thank the Speaker for his kind comments -- my hope is that you will achieve what you have set out to do, to complete the process of devolution. And I am confident that, together, you can go forward and harness the exciting, human, and economic potential that Northern Ireland has to offer.

I know there has been considerable effort in recent weeks to address concerns, and work toward a resolution during this important period. There have been many moments in Northern Ireland's peace journey when progress seemed difficult, when every route forward was blocked, and there seemed to be nowhere to go. But you have always found a way to do what you believed was right for the people of Northern Ireland. As Scripture urges us, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

And today, Northern Ireland stands as an example to the world of how even the staunchest adversaries can overcome differences to work together for the common and greater good. So, I encourage you to move forward now with that same spirit of unstoppable grit and resolve. And I pledge that the United States will be behind you all the way, as you work toward peace and stability that lasts."

For full text, click here.

Photo: Hillary Clinton with Northern Ireland Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Irish-American Comments on Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Dan Rooney, US Ambassador to Ireland
“It is with sorrow that I report on the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Senator Kennedy was not only a great American statesman, but a good friend of mine and of Ireland and its people.

“Senator Kennedy was a true advocate of health care, especially for children. He was committed to the idea that everyone should have access to health care.

“He was a giant in furthering legislative resolutions for people in need, among not only his own constituents, but also among the people of Ireland.

“Since his early days in the Senate, Ted Kennedy was active in the Northern Ireland peace process. He introduced resolutions condemning all violence in Northern Ireland, expressing support for the Good Friday agreement in 1998 and the blueprint for lasting peace.

“Senator Kennedy was an instrumental supporter of Barack Obama's candidacy for the office of President of the United States. He continued that support after President Obama was elected.

“My deepest sympathies go out to Senator Kennedy's wife, Victoria, and the entire Kennedy family. He will be sincerely missed for his active role in legislation and for his concern for the needy.”

Carol Wheeler, Irish Liaison for Obama Presidential Campaign
“Irish Americans have special reason to celebrate the incredible life of Senator Edward Kennedy for his heart most surely was that of an immigrant’s great-grandson who never forgot the wonder of what is possible in America. He fought tirelessly on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens (including our newest) to ensure that they, too, have the opportunity to realize their dreams. Our country is a better place because he won so many of those fights.

“He also used his extraordinary political skills to play a pivotal role in the resolution of the Irish ‘Troubles’. In addition to providing policy and diplomatic guidance that helped end the violence, he was unfailing in his support of on-the-ground efforts aimed at reconciliation and community-building. I remember a hot July day in Washington many years ago and a Senator who came home early from work to preside over a backyard cook-out for boys and girls who were spending the summer with Project Children. He was a buoyant host, clearly relishing the mix of Protestant and Catholic kids from Northern Ireland – ‘enemies’ at home – splashing side by side in his pool and sharing jokes at the picnic tables.

“We can be sure that this sad week has brought back many memories of that happy day in places like Belfast, Armagh and Derry. And that Senator Kennedy’s young guests – now adults with families of their own – are saying a quiet ‘thank you’ not only for a great party but for the peace that has come to their communities.

Trina Vargo, President, US-Ireland Alliance
“Senator Kennedy s commitment to Ireland and Northern Ireland spanned forty years and no one has contributed more to the strengthening of the relationship between the US and the island of Ireland. He encouraged me to create the US-Ireland Alliance and everyone at the Alliance is grateful for the continuous support he gave to the organization and the Mitchell Scholarship program. Personally, he gave me, at a very young age, an incredible opportunity to be a part of making a difference in a way that few people get. I told him when I left his employ that, no matter what I did with the rest of my life, the way that I see things would, to a very great extent, be shaped by the way that I learned to see things by working with him. And for that I feel honored and privileged -- but most of all I feel incredibly lucky -- that he allowed me to be a part of his work.”

Brian O’Dwyer, Chair, Emerald Isle Immigration Center
“I first met Ted Kennedy in 1963. I was a freshman at the George Washington University in Washington DC and was eager to intern with the recently elected Senator from Massachusetts. Armed with a letter of introduction from my father I sought the coveted internship for the newest star of the Kennedy family.

“I was not disappointed. The work of intern is mundane, but I did learn the workings of a Senate office by just being there. An added bonus was that Sen. Kennedy would always take time to have a kind word with us. I remember that he would always know who we were and would ask us about our lives.

“In 1999, my wife and I endowed the Paul O'Dwyer lecture on political ethics at the George Washington University. My father was deep admirer of Ted Kennedy and was an early supporter of his failed quest for the Presidency. It was Ted Kennedy who left Capitol Hill and traveled to the campus to pay tribute to the work of his friend Paul O'Dwyer. His words were as always eloquent, but it was his gesture in making himself available in spite of a hectic schedule that will always make me deeply grateful.

“He was disappointed that his immigration bill did not get passed. I remember him coming to me and saying, “Take a look at the bill Brian, I sure took care of the Irish” He never forgot a friend or an enemy, but constantly strived to make sure bridges were built and gaps overcome. He profoundly influenced my life and an entire generation of Irish Catholics. We will not see the like of him again.”

James Lamb, President, Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh
“When Pittsburgh was on its back in 1983, the steel mills were closing and the mill towns along the three rivers were dying, and the ranks of poverty swelled across Western Pennsylvania, guess who came to listen, to understand, and to help. Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. He taught me that poverty knows no boundary and our only hope to combat it is to educate the poor child and re-train the dislocated worker.

“Ten years later, as I began to serve the disadvantaged populations of Ireland, North and South, it was no surprise to find out that the too had a champion in Ted Kennedy. May he rest in peace.”

Michael Quinlin, Irish Americans for Obama/Biden
“Like everything he did in his political career, Senator Ted Kennedy sought to understand and master the nuances of Northern Ireland’s political, economic and cultural complexities.

“He wielded a full arsenal of insight, passion and wisdom, along with personal convictions and personable skills to help create an environment for negotiation in Northern Ireland. He dispatched his sister Jean Kennedy Smith and talented staff members from his office to the Clinton Administration, and they helped President Bill Clinton and Special Envoy George Mitchell jumpstart and then solidify the peace process.

“Just as he reached across the aisle in Congress, Senator Kennedy reached across the community divide in Northern Ireland to bring everyone into the conversation for peace. He picked up the phone frequently to ensure that party leaders in Northern Ireland stayed the course in their search for a lasting resolution.

“Senator Kennedy’s optimism, can-do attitude and desire to reach common ground exemplify the best characteristics of Irish-American involvement in Northern Ireland in our lifetime.”

Bruce Morrison, former US Congressman (CT), Chairman, Morrison Public Affairs Group
I first met Ted Kennedy up close in 1982 when he came to campaign for me in the closing days of my first Congressional campaign. It was quite an honor and a thrill—to have him whip up the crowd in a filled-to-the-rafters church on the New Haven Green—and a humbling experience to try to follow him to the podium. But it was at that moment that I truly believed in the upset victory that was to come a few short days later. Much has been said about Ted’s can-do sprit for his own work, but at least as important is the fact that his encouragement and his optimism gave strength to all who worked with him

In the years to come, we were to work on many things together, bankruptcy reform to protect union contracts, immigration reform to make the laws fairer and more generous, and a visa for Gerry Adams to kick-start the peace process. When working with Ted Kennedy on a project, the question was always the best way to get it done, not who would get the credit. Some call them “Morrison visas”, but without Ted Kennedy there would have been no such visas at all.

In the itemizing of Ted’s lifetime of legislative achievements, the Immigration Act of 1965 gets scant mention. And some have criticized that law for having undercut an Irish advantage in the allocation of visas. But as a veteran of immigration fights over the past quarter century, I can say that this early piece of work—just two years into his Senate career—is one of his greatest contributions to the strength of America. Before 1965, the ability to immigrate to America depended on where you were born, with natives of some parts of the world, like China, Japan and Africa being virtually barred. Since 1965, the hope of coming to America can exist in every land and the creation of the earth’s first “universal nation” built on belief in the American Dream, not ethnicity, has taken root. There could be no prouder achievement, yet it is just one of many for the career of Ted Kennedy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release August 26, 2009

- - - - - - -

Senator Edward M. Kennedy was not only one of the greatest
senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans
ever to serve our democracy. Over the past half-century, nearly
every major piece of legislation that has advanced the civil
rights, health, and economic well-being of the American people
bore his name and resulted from his efforts. With his passing,
an important chapter in our American story has come to an end.

As a mark of respect for the memory of Senator Edward M.
Kennedy, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that
the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at
the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at
all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels
of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and
throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions
until sunset on August 30, 2009. I also direct that the flag of
the United States shall be flown at half-staff until sunset on
the day of his interment. I further direct that the flag shall
be flown at half-staff for the same periods at all United States
embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities
abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord
two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

# # #

Senator Kennedy: A Statement from President Obama

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I've profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today--to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ambassador Dan Rooney

Dan Rooney's Swearing-In Ceremony as US Ambassador to Ireland

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Swears in Dan Rooney as US Ambassador to Ireland

Well, good afternoon, and welcome to the State Department. I came off the injured reserve list – – in order to officiate at this ceremony because I could not be more delighted than to make official what is going to be so well received in Ireland and means so much to Americans, not only Irish Americans but all Americans, and that is the swearing-in of our new ambassador to Ireland.

Now, we do have special guests with us, and I thank the Irish chargé d'affaires for being here, Mr. McDaid, and I thank Mrs. Collins for being here as well. Her husband, the ambassador, is in Ireland as we speak. And having Senator Robert Casey, my colleague, here, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder is a special treat.

Now, I’m not sure that we specifically mentioned all of the Rooneys who are here. Please forgive us if we forgot anyone. But this is just a representative sampling of the Rooney family.

You know, we may be meeting in Washington, but the city at the heart of today’s celebration is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And in recent years, Pittsburgh has staged a remarkable comeback. It has made such great strides in transforming its economy and developing its high-tech sector, and those are accomplishments that led President Obama to select Pittsburgh as the site for the meeting of the G-20 this September.

Pittsburgh is rich in arts and culture, and, of course, it continues to shine in sports. It is, I think, an understatement to say that with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning their third Stanley Cup, and, of course, the Steelers winning the Super Bowl for a record-breaking sixth time, the site of Pittsburgh is not only a great place to showcase business, but also the success of American sports as well.

And today, we are celebrating the man behind the Steelers, one of Pittsburgh’s leading citizens and our next ambassador to Ireland, Mr. Dan Rooney. Ambassador Rooney is assuming this post at a crucial time. Ireland is one of our closest allies. Our countries are connected by political, economic, cultural, and certainly familial ties. And we share a deep and rich history, one that continues today. It is sustained and enhanced by the millions of people in both nations whose family and loved ones live in the other. And I witnessed that firsthand when I marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh last year. I never saw so many people – until, of course, I got to Scranton, Bob.

Forty million Americans boast Irish heritage, and I expect we have a few in the room today in addition to the Rooneys. And as every American can attest, those of our neighbors and friends who are sons and daughters of Ireland are fiercely proud of their ancestry. And we are so grateful to the Irish immigrants who sweated and sacrificed to build this country and who broke down barriers at every level of society.

The friendship between Ireland and the United States is vital to both of our nations, and President Obama and I are confident that it will deepen with Dan and Patricia Rooney in Dublin. We have a great team here together. This is a partnership. These are civic leaders and successful people who are also lifelong supporters of Ireland.

In the early 1970s, after a trip to Ireland in which Ambassador Rooney saw for himself the destructive effects of deprivation and division, he founded the American Ireland Fund. Today, the Ireland Funds operate in 11 countries worldwide, uniting people of Irish descent to further progress in their ancestral homeland. And as Dan Rooney knows, the children and grandchildren of immigrants often have a deep desire to contribute to the nation where their families got their start.

And so today, ChargĂ© McDaid, we are sending you one of our very best. There is no greater champion of Irish-American relations than Dan Rooney. And in the months ahead, as we work together to address the many challenges we face, from the global economic downturn, to the threat of terrorism, to climate change, to the development of clean energy sources, as well as to our continuing emphasis on the peace process in Northern Ireland, I am confident that with Dan Rooney as our ambassador, our partnership will thrive, and that will benefit Ireland, the United States, and all the world’s people.

So Ambassador Rooney, if you’re ready, I am ready to administer the oath. Please raise your right hand.

(The Oath of Office was administered.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Senator Casey Applauds Rooney Confirmation

WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) welcomed the confirmation of Dan Rooney to be ambassador to Ireland. Senator Casey released the following statement:

“I am very pleased that the U.S. Senate has confirmed my friend Dan Rooney to be ambassador to Ireland. This speedy confirmation will allow Dan Rooney to get to work as a bridge between the United States and Ireland. In the Steelers loss the United States gains a humble and knowledgeable public servant.”

Although Rooney only had his nomination hearing yesterday, Senator Casey, in his capacity as a Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, worked closely with Chairman John Kerry and Ranking Member Dick Lugar to expedite full Senate consideration of Rooney’s nomination to ensure that Rooney can travel to Ireland as early as next week to present his credentials to the Irish President and assume his new diplomatic posting.

Senator Robert Casey

Statement of Daniel Rooney - Ambassador Designate to Ireland

Daniel Rooney
Ambassador-Designate to Ireland
Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
June 24, 2009

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, it is my honor to be here today as the President’s nominee to be the United States Ambassador to Ireland. I would like to thank the President and Secretary Clinton for the confidence they have demonstrated in nominating me. I was always warned against the sin of pride but I offer the following in a spirit of humility and in recognition that I have been blessed by many opportunities in this great nation.

First, I believe that an American Ambassador must have a great love for, and knowledge of, our country and our people and be able to advance the interests of the United States in a professional, effective and creative way. It is my intention to serve in that manner.

I am passionate about America and what we stand for. Like millions of others, I was deeply stirred by President Obama’s declaration to people and governments around the world last January, when he said: “Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.” For me, this is the essence of diplomacy, a belief in the human spirit and that we can improve our world by engagement and development of shared interests, including peace, business and culture.

America has indeed been one of the most generous nations in history, motivated by the memories of countless generations of immigrants who found refuge and prosperity here and who wanted to give something back to the world. And there has been no greater friendship than that between America and Ireland. Millions of Americans of Irish decent have forebears who left their homes and families for the opportunities that America offers and built great lives in all 50 states. Irish Americans have excelled in all walks of life including public service -- as Presidents, Members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices. But what is particularly important for Ireland is that over the past 30 years, America has played a key role in catalyzing and nurturing peace.

I have been deeply involved in the Irish peace process since the Troubles began in the early 1970s. It is important to remember today that there was nothing preordained about the ultimate success of the peace process. It would not have prevailed without the determined diplomacy and patience of good people in Ireland, the UK and the United States. If ever there was a rousing justification for diplomacy and an example for other conflicts around the world, it is the Irish peace process and its combination of diplomats, Presidents, Taoiseachs, Prime Ministers, political leaders, community leaders, church leaders and especially quiet heroes who never gave up hope.

Today in Ireland, people of all ages will tell you stories about the contributions of Presidents Clinton, Reagan and Bush, of Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Dodd, Mitchell, McCain and so many other great leaders from this body. American diplomacy is the best chance for peace in the world and Ireland is its shining example.

My family is originally from Newry, on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and in visits to that town and others, I witnessed some of the worst violence and destruction I have ever seen. Moved by this human suffering, in 1976, Sir Anthony O’Reilly and I founded the American Ireland Fund, a charitable effort dedicated to peace, culture and charity in all of Ireland. We embraced Protestants and Catholics, Irish Republicans and British Loyalists. The Fund quickly harnessed the generosity of thousands of Irish Americans, and we spoke at cities all over America, raising awareness about peace and reconciliation, rejecting the politics of violence, and raising funds for causes like integrated schools between Catholics and Protestants. Since that time, the kindness and generosity of so many Irish Americans has led the Fund to become the largest Irish philanthropic organization -- raising over $300 million dollars, supporting peace, culture, and charity in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Today, Ireland, with the peace process largely intact despite recent atrocities, faces new challenges as a small island buffeted by the winds of recession and financial turmoil. While America and Ireland remain great friends, we should not take our special relationship for granted. There is a tendency to look for scapegoats when faced with hardship and we must remind the world that business innovation, with a social safety net, has served the world very well. Successive Irish governments have been pro-business and this, combined with high education standards and a low corporate tax rate, has been the foundation of the rapid Irish economic growth. The Irish government is now faced with some tough budget choices, but I am hopeful that the shared American and Irish spirit of resilience, hard work and innovation will help them through these hard times.

I have also had years of experience as a manager of one of the world’s most successful sporting franchises, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and as an active member of the NFL. I have managed a diverse and talented group of executives, coaches and players and learned how to recruit talented people. I set stretching goals and hold people accountable for results. I believe in drawing clear boundaries involving teamwork, commitment and trust, and then letting folks get to work with their job. This has been a winning formula for me throughout my life. One of my most gratifying accomplishments has been working to insure diversity hiring goes beyond the playing field into coaches and front office personnel. I am humbled that they have named the NFL’s diversity hiring by-law the Rooney Rule.

In conclusion, I believe most Irish people feel a strong attachment to America. I believe we can build on the mutual interests and values to continue to build the rich tapestry of exchanges between America and Ireland. In this respect, I want to pay tribute to all the American leaders who have been so successful in widening and deepening relations between our two countries across politics, business, music, literature, the arts, charity and academia. These men and women, together with their dedicated teams, have served our country with great distinction, professionalism and grace, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. It is my intention to represent this President and our entire nation with that same spirit and dedication.

Thank you and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Casey Statement on Rooney Nomination Being Sent to Senate

WASHINGTON, DC- After the White House officially transmitted to the U.S. Senate the formal nomination of Dan Rooney to be U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement:

“I welcome this step forward in Mr. Rooney’s nomination process and will work closely with Chairman Kerry in seeking a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing for him as soon as possible.”

Transmitting the nomination to the Senate was the next official step in the process following President Obama’s announcement of the intent to nominate Dan Rooney on St. Patrick’s Day. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee can now schedule a nomination hearing.

Senator Casey's Office

White House Nominates Dan Rooney to Senate Foreign Relations Committee


Office of the Press Secretary


June 11, 2009


Daniel M. Rooney of Pennsylvania, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ireland.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

President Obama Nominates Daniel Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland

Office of the Press Secretary



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at the White House, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Daniel Rooney as the Ambassador to Ireland.
President Obama said, "I am honored and grateful that such a dedicated and accomplished individual has agreed to serve as the representative of the United States to the Irish people. Dan Rooney is an unwavering supporter of Irish peace, culture, and education, and I have every confidence that he and Secretary Clinton will ensure America’s continued close and unique partnership with Ireland in the years ahead."

Dan Rooney is the recent recipient of the American Ireland Fund’s Lifetime Achievement Award and honorary Commander of the British Empire for contributions to peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, has played an integral role in the Irish peace process since the early 1970s. In 1976, Rooney co-founded the American Ireland Fund, an organization which to date has raised over $300 million for peace and education programs in Ireland. Rooney founded the annual prize for Irish Literature in 1987 and co-founded the Ireland Institution of Pittsburgh in 1989. In 1993, the "Rooney Fellowship" was created to honor his generosity and charitable works. Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the winners of Super Bowl XLIII, Rooney was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000. He has been the recipient of various awards in relation to his work within the community and for his involvement with the National Football League over the last 26 years, including: the Sporting News NFL Executive of the Year in 1972 and 2001, the Maxwell Football Club Reds Bagwell Award in 1999, and, in 2008, the YWCA Racial Justice Award and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by the National Ethnic Coalition. Rooney also led the sports world’s efforts to include diversity beyond the field and into the front office through the "Rooney Rule."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

President Obama Declares March 2009 as Irish-American Heritage Month

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 2, 2009


Even before the birth of our Nation, the sons and daughters of Erin departed their homes in search of liberty and a more hopeful future. As these early pioneers left familiar lands, they carried with them the rich traditions of home. This March we honor their journey and their lasting contributions to the history and culture of the United States.

Following the colonial migrations, the United States enjoyed the greatest influx of Irish during the 1840s as Ireland suffered the Great Famine. Hungry but hopeful, poor but perseverant, Irish-Americans seized the opportunity to work hard, enjoy success, and pursue the American Dream.Many took on the difficult work of constructing America's infrastructure. Others assumed positions of leadership. Among those leaders were signers of the Declaration of Independence and Presidents of the United States. Still others enjoyed great success and influence in the arts and literature. From social activists to business leaders, athletes to clergy, and first responders to soldiers, distinguished Irish-Americans have made indelible contributions to our national identity.

Today, tens of millions of Irish-Americans can look back with pride on the legacy of their forebears. Irish-Americans are integral to the rich fabric of the United States, and we are grateful for their service and contributions.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 2009 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.