UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland | Director: Professor Liam Kennedy
L- R, Mr. Paul Quinn, Mr. Daithi o'Ceallaigh, Sir, Jonathan Power, Prof. Andrew Wilson, Mr. Peter Jay, Prof. Ronan Fanning, Dr. Kevin McNamara, Prof. Maurice Bric, Lord John Kerr, Dr. Andrew Sanders and Mr. Deaglán de Bréadún
On Saturday 17 November, the UCD Clinton Institute for American Studies hosted a further colloquium in its series on the relationship between the United States and Northern Ireland. Following on from the event of 16 and 17 September 2011. "The United States and Northern Ireland: The Diplomatic Perspective" sought to explore one particular path of the narrative of the relevant relationships: how it is interpreted by those who were involved as public servants and diplomats from the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland. It examined the issue in three workshops, which considered how the issue of Northern Ireland impacted upon the diplomatic relationships between the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland.
Since 1968, the involvement of individual Americans, American organisations and agencies and eventually, the American government in the "troubles of Northern Ireland have been motivated by a variety of factors. Some of these have been informed by historical memory; some by the complex nature of American - and in particular, Irish-American - society and politics; and still others by the need to address a problem which while regional in nature, was also informing, and informed by, international politics and relationships.
The relative importance of these motivations also varied over time and in particular, by differences in the ways in which the relevant actors both within Northern Ireland and within Britain and Ireland were assessing the nature of the issue. While such changes in attitude and political approach were motivated by regional circumstances and the personalities who shaped them, they were often guided by the continuing American interest in Northern Ireland.
However, such American interest had also been changing over the years. While Jimmy Carter had tended to see the "troubles" of Northern Ireland in terms of human rights, Ronald Reagan saw them as an issue which should not be allowed to destabilise the "special relationship" between Britain and the United States. While paradoxically, this gave Northern Ireland a new importance in American eyes, it was not until President Clinton was elected that the influence of the American government was most powerfully deployed to move the issues involved towards closure. In doing so, it celebrated a particular president. However, it also celebrated the United States as a broker which could use its good offices to encourage solutions to political problems on whichever part of the globe they might be.
In September 2011, the Clinton Institute hosted a successful colloquium on the topic of "The United States and Northern Ireland: A Transatlantic Perspective on Problems and Solutions". It examined some of these issues: how Northern Ireland was perceived at various levels of American society and politics, and how these perceptions were assessed in turn in Ireland and Britain.
The proposed continuing colloquium will focus on one particular path of the narrative of the relevant relationships: how it is interpreted by those who were involved as public servants and diplomats from the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland. It will examine the issue in three workshops, which will consider how the issue of Northern Ireland impacted upon the diplomatic relationships between the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland.
Panel 1: Redefining Relationships
This panel will focus on the role of British and Irish diplomats in the United States during the most violent years of the Northern Irish conflict. It will examine the ways in which the British and Irish state co-operated on the issue of Northern Ireland and how they used their influence over key actors in Washington and further afield to counter the activities of Irish Republican Army supporters in the United States.
Panel 2: Broadening Relationships
In our second panel, we will assess how the roles of British and Irish diplomats in the United States changed as the nature of the conflict changed, but also as the political landscapes of the United States, the United Kingdom and Ireland changed. this panel will also examine the effects of the close relationship between President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher and how this impacted on the role of the United States in the Northern Irish conflict.
Panel 3: The Good Friday Agreement and its Aftermath
In our final panel, we will look at how the role of British and Irish diplomats evolved during the peace process era as the involvement of the United States in Northern Ireland came to the forefront of contemporary consciousness with the role of President Clinton.
Confirmed speakers include:
Former UK Ambassadors Mr. Peter Jay and Lord Kerr; former Irish Ambassadors Dr. Sean Donlon and Mr. Daithi O Ceallaigh; Sir Jonathan Phillips, and Mr. Paul S. Quinn