Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Belfast City Hall
Belfast, United Kingdom
October 12, 2009


QUESTION: Well, first of all, thank you (inaudible) Secretary’s visit to Belfast has improved the political atmosphere here. I think we all detected (inaudible) when you were Stormont earlier on today, but (inaudible) believe that after you leave and go to Russia later today, within a few days the parties will start arguing again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, arguing is part of talking. In any democracy, I don’t think that (inaudible) with differences of opinion (inaudible). But I’ve seen (inaudible) and working (inaudible) the leaders (inaudible) is that progress continues. It may be difficult, there may be obstacle to overcome, but I have no doubt that it’s going to move forward (inaudible) on the path of peace that everyone has committed to traveling.

So I felt very honored that I could (inaudible) Assembly and see some of the people that I’ve worked with over the years and someone who believes in the power of patience and persistence. No difficult problem, whether it’s healthcare in the United States or the peace process in Northern Ireland, yields easily. But if you just (inaudible) keep asking yourself, “Will the future be better than the past,” (inaudible) will be motivated to (inaudible).

QUESTION: (Inaudible) issue of when should policing and justice powers be transferred from London to (inaudible) Belfast (inaudible). Sinn Fein says it should happen now. (Inaudible) says not yet. What does America say?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we say that it is up to the parties to determine how to address this issue. It is an important remaining matter that has to be resolved, but the circumstances and the timing is up to those directly responsible. I am, however, heartened by what I’m hearing from the negotiations with Minister Brown (inaudible) that apparently made public today in terms of what the British Government has offered as a way of dealing with legitimate issues that have been raised about devolution (inaudible).

So it’s not for me to say when, how. It’s just as a true friend, which I believe I am, to encourage all the leaders, all parties, to really move forward as effectively and expeditiously as (inaudible).

QUESTION: You talked a little at Stormont this morning about the dark side (inaudible) tactics (inaudible) by violent groups (inaudible). I assume you’ve been (inaudible). What can you tell us? How concerned should we be (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that any situation where people have made a commitment and therefore are taking risks (inaudible) political constituencies, have historical alliances that have to be worked through, it is always (inaudible) that along the path there will be opportunists (inaudible) to detour, to (inaudible) the process. That’s a very common phenomenon. I think there has been growing concern that in the absence of decision making that might happen here. I don’t have (inaudible) but I know (inaudible).

So I think it’s important that everyone stay committed, as the entire population appear to be, after the murders of that constable (inaudible). That could have been the end. That could have been such a moment of anguish and despair that people would have either retired into corners or just quit altogether. It’s (inaudible). So I think the durability is strong. I think the message to those, whoever they might be, who would wish a different future on the people of Northern Ireland need to know we’re beyond that. We’re done with that. You are stranded on the sidelines (inaudible). We have moved on.

Now, there are criminal elements who cloak themselves in ideology (inaudible), sectarianism. They need to be brought to justice. They need to be isolated. But I feel that that is all in hand, and I have no doubt that the commitment that has been made to a durable, lasting peace will (inaudible).

QUESTION: As you know, politics is about personality (inaudible) almost a personal problem between Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (inaudible). We saw the (inaudible) between (inaudible). What do you make of their relationship?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The times that I have been with both of them – it’s been quite a few times in the last several years – I’ve seen a good personal relationship. They kid one another (inaudible). They went out to dinner. But I also have enough experience in politics that you can have an excellent personal relationship when you’re in private, but still feel compelled to go out into public and represent (inaudible). I saw time and time again – with my husband, with myself – where people would take positions diametrically opposed to those that we held. Sometimes it would appear in public to be quite intractable, and then the personal relationship went right on.

So some of this is politics. Some of this is just natural give-and-take and the necessary accommodations to bring everybody along that is part of what happens in a democratic process. So I believe that all the leaders of all the parties are called upon to act in a responsible way that at the end of the day reflects the best that they can bring to their people and (inaudible).

QUESTION: Two last ones briefly, if I may. (Inaudible) as we know, money can solve not every problem in life, but it sure can help, especially during a credit crunch. (Inaudible) American dollars coming over here to Northern Ireland as part of the peace dividend?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there certainly are potential investment dollars (inaudible). When the ceasefires were announced in the ‘90s, the Northern Ireland economy took off. People felt comfortable and safe investing, and that has continued. So thousands of jobs have been created which would never have been created in the absence of agreements to pursue peace together. And I’ve appointed an economic envoy who will work with both the Northern Ireland and American business communities to look for mutually beneficial investments, because the other side of the story is that Northern Ireland businesses (inaudible) more investment in the United States.

So I think that staying on this path of stability and peace, dealing with the problems of everyday life that come up in a political (inaudible), creating a good business climate is a result of the commitment that (inaudible). I understand that the British Government (inaudible) Prime Minister Brown has made a very significant offer to the parties to help deal with the cost (inaudible) devolution (inaudible), but I know that (inaudible) be presented to the (inaudible). So I think there’s a lot that has flowed from the assumption that everyone is committed to peace. (Inaudible) may have differences. You may have a specific issue that you’re not satisfied with. But the overall commitment is unwavering.

QUESTION: Finally (inaudible) Secretary of State, you’ve been (inaudible). Tell us, what are you doing (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t feel comfortable speaking for my counterparts who have the responsibility of (inaudible) hard work, but they negotiated over many weeks (inaudible) Prime Minister Brown. They have a lot more confidence (inaudible) what they need in order to go forward. I can’t speak for how they will make (inaudible) decision. That’s not my place. But as a true friend, I am encouraging everyone to work together to make decisions that will continue to benefit (inaudible).

QUESTION: Secretary of State, thank you very much indeed.

SECRETARY CLINTON: My pleasure. Thank you.

QUESTION: Safe trip to Russia.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

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PRN: 2009/T13-9