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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Addresses US - Northern Ireland Economic Conference in Washington

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the US - Northern Ireland Economic Conference today at the State Department in Washington, D.C.

For a written transcript of Secretary Clinton's remarks, click here.

Posted by Irish Americans for Obama/Biden

Thursday, October 7, 2010

US State Department Accepting Diversity Visa Applications through November 3, 2010

An immigrant visa program offered by the U.S. State Department called the Diversity Visa Lottery Program is currently accepting applications for entry to the United States in 2012.

The period of application is October 5 through November 3, 2010.

Mandated by the U.S. Congress, the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 diversity visas annually, drawn from random selection among applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. Citizens from Ireland and Northern Ireland are eligible to participate in the lottery.

For more details on Irish applications, visit the website of the Embassy of the United States in Dublin. There is no application fee and the application must be made electronically.

For ongoing details on efforts by President Barack Obama to create comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, visit

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Former President Bill Clinton Returns to Northern Ireland to Discuss Economic Strategies and Peace

(September 29, 2010) -- Today former U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered a speech at the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus in Derry, discussing economic strategies for Northern Ireland while promoting US investment there.

Accompanied by US Envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelley, Clinton met with Northern Ireland leaders First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as former SDLP leader John Hume.

Addressing several hundred political leaders, business leaders and students at the University’s Great Hall, President Clinton encouraged the people of Northern Ireland to weather the economic difficulties of the time while remaining appreciative of the peace that has come to Northern Ireland.

"It was a really nice ride for a long time then, just like everybody's life, there are bumps in the road. This is also part of living a peaceful life, facing the tough times, facing the crisis and facing it together, " President Clinton said. "This is what the peace is about - about giving the people the chance to live responsible normal lives."

Mr. Clinton’s visit comes in advance of a US - Northern Ireland economic conference in Washington DC on October 19 that will be hosted by President Clinton’s wife, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The economic summit, which takes place at the State Department, is part of a set of commitments made by President Barack Obama about Northern Ireland when he was campaigning for the president's office in 2008.

Friday, September 17, 2010

United States - Northern Ireland Economic Conference Set for October 19 in Washington D.C.

The U.S. State Department is hosting a one-day economic conference to showcase American investment opportunities in Northern Ireland on Tuesday, October 19, 2010, at the U.S. State Department.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will preside over the conference of 70-80 participants.

The conference was announced on March 17, 2010 following a meeting with President Barack Obama, Secretary Clinton and leaders from Northern Ireland, according to Declan Kelly, US Envoy to Northern Ireland.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are expected to represent Northern Ireland at the conference. Executives from American corporations already doing business in Northern Ireland will share their experiences with corporate executives who are considering investment there.

Key partners involved in the conference include Tourism Ireland, the U.S. Consulate in Belfast and the Ireland Funds. For a full list of partners, click here.

The conference is part of an ongoing commitment made by President Obama and his Administration to support a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Statement by the President on Senate Proposal Outlined to Fix Our Nation’s Broken Immigration System


Office of the Press Secretary

(Issued on April 29, 2010)

“It is the federal government's responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders, as well as to set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. The continued failure of the federal government to fix the broken immigration system will leave the door open to a patchwork of actions at the state and local level that are inconsistent and as we have seen recently, often misguided.

The proposal outlined today in the Senate is a very important step in the process of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. I am especially pleased to see that this detailed outline is consistent with the bipartisan framework presented by Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham last month, and is grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability.

What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system, which Democrats and Republicans alike agree doesn’t work. It’s unacceptable to have 11 million people in the United States who are living here illegally and outside of the system. I have repeatedly said that there are some essential components that must be in immigration legislation. It must call for stronger border security measures, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and clearer rules for controlling future immigration. And it must require those who are here illegally to get right with the law, pay penalties and taxes, learn English, pass criminal background checks and admit responsibility before they are allowed to get in line and eventually earn citizenship. The outline presented today includes many of these elements. The next critical step is to iron out the details of a bill. We welcome that discussion, and my Administration will play an active role in engaging partners on both sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution that is based on the fundamental concept of accountability that the American people expect and deserve.”


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

US Ambassador Dan Rooney to Discuss Ireland's Cultural Heritage on May 6

Daniel M. Rooney, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, is hosting a community forum to discuss how Ireland's cultural heritage can help the economy.

The forum takes place on Thursday, May 6, 2010, froom Noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Hynes Theatre, Wexford Opera House, in County Wexford. The event is free and open to the public.

Ambassador Rooney, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, was named as US Ambassador to Ireland by President Barack Obama on March 17, 2009. He was sworn into office by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on July 1, 2009.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Remarks by President Barack Obama at St. Patrick's Day Reception on March 17, 2010

East Wing, White House

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Welcome to St. Patrick’s Day at the White House, on a day when springtime is in the air –- and this is -- even though the Taoiseach hasn’t even shared his shamrocks yet, but we can feel spring coming.

Before I say anything else let me just say that I could not have a better partner in a difficult job than the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden; he does a great job each and every day. (Applause.) And I couldn't have a better partner in life than the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

Welcome back, Mr. Prime Minister, First Lady. We are thrilled to have you.

The Irish and Irish-Americans are out in force tonight. I believe, if I'm not mistaken that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is here. (Applause.) A couple of my Cabinet Secretaries are here, as well –- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. (Applause.) I would love to acknowledge all the members of Congress who are here tonight, but there are a few dozen of you, including three or four Murphys. (Laughter.) There’s one right there. (Laughter.) You're everywhere.

Governor Martin O’Malley -- (applause) -- who’s been known to be the lead in an Irish rock band. Governor Bob McDonnell is here, of the great Commonwealth of Virginia. And Mayor Tom Menino shipped down from Boston. (Applause.) My dear friend, the United States Ambassador to Ireland and the person who is singly responsible for converting the entire country to become Steelers’ fans, Dan Rooney. (Applause.) And his counterpart, the Irish Ambassador to the United States, Michael Collins. (Applause.)

So welcome, everybody. This has been a wonderful day filled with good reminders of just how deeply woven the ties between our two countries are. We welcomed back a friend, the Taoiseach. He and I remarked once again of our shared ties to County Offaly. (Applause.) He was born there, and when I was running for President, it was brought to my attention that -- I want to make sure I get this straight -- it was my great-great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side who hailed from Moneygall. I wish I knew about this when I was running in Chicago. (Laughter.)

I also had the pleasure of welcoming back First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland -- (applause) -- two men who have stood together with conviction to chart a historic path towards peace. They are here tonight. We were thinking about sending them up to Congress tomorrow -- (laughter) -- to see if they can share some of their secrets. (Laughter.)

I also just met with Andrew Sens and Brigadier General -- I want to make sure I get this right -- Tauno Niemenen, who, because of their successful leadership, are winding down the work of the Independent Commission on Decommissioning after 12 years. (Applause.) And Matt Baggott, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, whose fairness and impartiality is keeping the peace across all of Northern Ireland’s communities. So thank you. (Applause.)

Twelve years ago, America was inspired by the brave men and women who found the courage to see past the scars of a troubled past so that their children would know a better future. And we are watching you and continue to be inspired by your extraordinary work.

It’s wonderful to have everybody here at the White House here tonight. During his last visit, the Taoiseach mentioned that the Irish Diaspora is some 70 million strong -- which is obviously impressive for a small island. And it’s even more impressive that they all find their way to America for St. Patrick’s Day. (Laughter.) I can make that joke as somebody of Irish heritage. (Laughter.)

I should mention by the way that -- we were discussing this with my mayor from Chicago, Mayor Daley, and I told him that I had this Irish heritage. And he said that he had actually Kenyan blood in him also. (Laughter.)

It just goes to show that in recent decades it has become cool to be Irish. (Laughter.) It’s the phenomenon the Irish poet, and Joe Biden’s favorite poet, Seamus Heaney, once described in stunned fashion as “the manifestation of sheer, bloody genius -– Ireland is chic.” (Laughter.)

And obviously we know, though, that that wasn’t always the case. After centuries of oppression, the Irish began coming to America -– even before America had been won. Many came with no family, no friends, no money -– nothing to sustain their voyage but faith. Faith in the Almighty. Faith in a better life over the horizon. And faith that in America, you can make it if you try.

And in the wake of a Great Hunger, that migration intensified. And the Irish carved out a place for themselves in our nation’s story -– America and Ireland, our brawn and our blood, side by side in the making and remaking of this nation; pulling it westward, pushing it skyward, moving it forward -– even if it was a nation that was not always as welcoming as it could be.

But with hard work and toughness and loyalty and faith, the Irish persevered. And in the process they secured the future for generations of Irish-Americans free to live their lives as they will -– and today, free to argue openly and proudly about who is more Irish than whom. (Laughter.)

So it can be easy to forget that there was a time when “No Irish Need Apply.” Particularly when it was half a century ago this year that John F. Kennedy walked through the doors of this house as the first Irish Catholic President of the United States. (Applause.)

One person who never forgot this history -– someone who frequently recalled his grandfather’s vivid stories of those days; who through his office window could see the Boston Harbor steps where his eight Irish grandparents first set foot in America –- was the President’s youngest brother and our dear friend, Ted Kennedy. (Applause.)

He knew, as we do, that our nation is infinitely richer for not only the contributions of the Irish throughout history -– but the contributions of people from around the world. That’s why I’m pleased that there’s bipartisan progress being made in an area that I know was close to his big heart -– and that's fixing our broken immigration system. (Applause.) And that’s why my own commitment to comprehensive immigration reform remains unwavering.

In this and every other battle for progress, Ted was a tireless warrior. And I know that we could use him this week. I am so glad that we’re joined tonight by his wife Vicki; his daughter, Kara; his son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy; and his sister-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, as well as a whole bunch of nieces and nephews. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

Both of our nations are down one friend, a champion, and peacemaker. But it wouldn’t be Irish mourning without some undercurrent of joy. So while Teddy’s laughter may not shake the walls of this house tonight, as it did so many times over the past half-century, ours will not be diminished. While his singing may not fill these rooms, I suspect that won’t stop some of you from trying. (Laughter.) You don't have to try, though -- that's why we brought in the entertainment. (Laughter.)

This is rightly a day for celebration and good cheer between America and one of her oldest friends -– and it’s a partnership that extends to our earliest days as a Republic. So before I turn it over to the Taoiseach, let me leave you with all the words from those early days that speak to why this has been such an incredible relationship between our two countries. These are words spoken by the father of our country, George Washington:

“When our friendless standards were first unfurled, who were the strangers who first mustered around our staff? And when it reeled in the light, who more brilliantly sustained it than Erin’s generous sons? Ireland, thou friend of my country in my country’s most friendless days, much injured, much enduring land, accept this poor tribute from one who esteems thy worth, and mourns thy desolation. May the God of Heaven, in His justice and mercy, grant thee more prosperous fortunes, and in His own time, cause the sun of Freedom to shed its benign radiance on the Emerald Isle.”

To all of you from near and far, and over all the years and tests ahead, may America and Ireland forever brilliantly sustain one another’s sons and daughters.

And with that, to our guest, the Taoiseach of Ireland, on behalf of the American people we want to thank you for your presence here. We are proud to call you a friend this day and every day. And we are looking forward to planting this little piece of Ireland in the garden here in the White House.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody. (Applause.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

President Obama Declares March as Irish Heritage Month, 2010

From long before American independence to today, countless individuals have reached our shores, bringing vibrant cultures and diverse roots, and immeasurably enriching our Nation. This month, we honor the contributions made by the tens of millions of Americans who trace their heritage to the Emerald Isle.

Irish Americans fought for our independence, and their signatures adorn our founding documents. When famine ravaged Ireland in the 1840s and 1850s, many Irish men and women sought a new beginning in the United States. Though they faced poverty and discrimination, these immigrants transformed our cities, served in our Armed Forces, and settled the frontiers of our young Nation. Their children, and succeeding generations of Irish Americans, have preserved their culture's values while becoming leaders in every facet of American life.

During this year's Irish-American Heritage Month, we also celebrate an extraordinary Irishman: Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Throughout his career in public service, Senator Kennedy worked tirelessly to create opportunity for all Americans. His legacy lives on in the legislation he championed, which will bolster and protect the health, education, and civil rights of Americans for generations to come.

Across the Atlantic, the people of Ireland continue to confront their own challenges with resolve and determination. In the face of violence perpetuated by some -- testing a hard-earned peace -- the people of Northern Ireland have responded heroically. Undaunted, they and their leaders persist on the road to peace and prosperity enshrined over a decade ago in the Good Friday Agreement. The United States remains committed to supporting the political process and the work of those who have shown leadership in pursuit of a lasting peace.

Today, the sons and daughters of Erin can look back with pride on their many contributions to the civic and cultural life of America. Like so many of our Nation's ethnic communities, Irish Americans are a people whose hard work and resilience have brought them great opportunity and success, and whose service to our Nation has left it a better place.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim March 2010 as Irish-American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by celebrating the contributions of Irish American to our Nation with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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


Friday, February 5, 2010

Remarks of US Secretary State Hillary Clinton on Northern Ireland

February 5, 2010

Well, today is a very positive day for Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has taken another important step toward a full and lasting peace. Its political leaders have agreed on a roadmap and timeline for the devolution of policing and justice powers, and they’ve taken other productive steps as well. The accord they announced today will help consolidate the hard-won gains of the past decade.

Now, this has not been an easy road. There were plenty of bumps along the way. I have been in regular contact with the parties during the past year and, especially since my trip to Belfast in October, and I know that the way forward was far from clear. So I really want to applaud all of the parties for ultimately choosing negotiations over confrontation. In finalizing this deal, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness and their teams displayed the kind of leadership that the people of Northern Ireland deserve.

I want to recognize the leadership and the patient resolve of Prime Minister Brown and Taoiseach Cowen, as well as Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin. They have resolutely focused on moving this process forward, forging common ground, and reaching an outcome that will keep Northern Ireland on the path of peace and stability.

Now, this is not the end of the journey. So far, the devolution process has enabled Northern Ireland’s leaders to enact a range of needed reforms, from health to housing to environmental safety. Now they have even greater authority, and with that authority comes greater responsibility. They must continue to lead. The people of Northern Ireland are poised to build a thriving society on this stronger foundation – a country where neighbors can live free from fear and all people have the potential to fulfill their God-given rights.

This is a dream nurtured for so long in the hearts of people across Northern Ireland. It is also a dream that lives far beyond its borders, in countries and communities where ethnic and religious conflicts persist. This latest success in Northern Ireland points the way forward – and not only for this conflict. Northern Ireland gives us hope that, despite entrenched opposition and innumerable setbacks, diligent diplomacy and committed leadership can overcome generations of suspicion and hostility.

So, now we join the world in looking to the leaders of Northern Ireland to build upon their efforts by promoting a new spirit of cooperation among all of the parties. As they do, the United States will help. Our Economic Envoy, Declan Kelly, will continue working to help Northern Ireland reap the dividends of peace, including economic growth, international investment, and other new opportunities. In the near future, Declan and I will host First Minister Robinson and Deputy First Minister McGuinness here in Washington to discuss further investment in Northern Ireland and ways to build on this agreement.

I spoke very, very late in the evening in Northern Ireland with both Sean and Micheal and congratulated them, thanked them for their efforts. I spoke early this morning with both Peter and Martin and did the same, and also pledged our continuing support for their efforts.

So today, we salute this achievement. We recognize that a new chapter of partnership among Northern Ireland’s political leadership and people can now begin. And I am confident that the people of Northern Ireland will make the most of this moment. I want to reaffirm the commitment of the United States, and my personal commitment to support them in every way we can as they continue on this very positive path into the future.

See Video.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

President Obama Campaigns for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts

Boston, MA – President Barack Obama came to Boston on Sunday to endorse Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley, appearing at a rally at Northeastern University.

President Obama also released an ad calling upon voters to get to the polls on Tuesday, January 19 to ensure Coakley's victory.

The ad can be viewed on youtube.

Campaign Manager Kevin Conroy said, “Massachusetts voters understand the clear difference they face tomorrow. One candidate will stand with Wall Street, and with the failed economic policies of the past. One candidate will stand with middle class families and lead our Commonwealth into a more prosperous future. The energy surrounding President Obama’s visit and the upcoming election reflects the enthusiasm we’ve seen for Martha’s proud record of standing up for Massachusetts, and her strong vision for our country.”

Coakley became Massachusetts’ first female Attorney General in January 2007. Throughout her public career, she has a proven record of taking on big challenges and getting real results for the people of this Commonwealth. As Attorney General, Coakley took on Wall Street to protect consumers, recovering record settlements in enforcement actions from companies such as Goldman Sachs and Fremont Investment and Loan for violating consumer protection laws. As part of her Cyber Crime Initiative, Coakley revolutionized the tools available to prosecutors for fighting crime in the 21st century, ensuring that Massachusetts is on the cutting edge of public safety.

Coakley, 56, was raised in North Adams. She is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where she was a member of the first class admitted to the college that included female students. She received her law degree from Boston University School of Law in 1979. Coakley resides in Medford with her husband, Thomas F. O’Connor, a retired police Deputy Superintendent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on the Death of his Mother

“My mother, Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan Biden, passed away peacefully today at our home in Wilmington, Delaware, surrounded by her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and many loved ones. At 92, she was the center of our family and taught all of her children that family is to be treasured, loyalty is paramount and faith will guide you through the tough times. She believed in us, and because of that, we believed in ourselves. Together with my father, her husband of 61 years who passed away in 2002, we learned the dignity of hard work and that you are defined by your sense of honor. Her strength, which was immeasurable, will live on in all of us.”

Catherine Eugenia “Jean” Finnegan Biden was born on July 17, 1917, the daughter of the late Ambrose J. Finnegan and the former Geraldine C. Blewitt of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In 1941, she married Joseph Robinette Biden. They were married for 61 years before Mr. Biden passed away in 2002.

Mrs. Biden is survived by her eldest son, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., his wife Jill Jacobs Biden and their three children, Joseph R. Biden, III, of Wilmington, Delaware, his wife Hallie Olivere Biden and their children, Natalie Paige Biden and Robert Hunter Biden, II; R. Hunter Biden of Washington, D.C., his wife Kathleen Buhle Biden and their children, Naomi King Biden, Finnegan James Biden and Roberta Mabel Biden; and Ashley Blazer Biden of Wilmington, Delaware; and by her daughter, Valerie Biden Owens of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, her husband John T. Owens and their children Valerie James Owens, Cuffe Biden Owens and Catherine Eugenia Owens; and by her two younger sons, James Brian Biden of Merion Station, Pennsylvania, his wife Sara Jones Biden and their children, James Brian Biden, Jr., Caroline Nicole Biden and Nicholas Coleman Biden; and Francis W. Biden of Florida and his daughter, Alana Jaquet Biden.

Details on services for Mrs. Biden, 92, will be available in the coming days. On behalf of the Biden family, Valerie Biden Owens has requested that, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a contribution in memory of Mrs. Biden do so to a hospice, the Ministry of Caring in Wilmington, Delaware, or the Naomi Christina Biden Minority Scholarship Fund at Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware.