Remarks by Minister Flanagan introducing Iveagh Lecture by Sen. Gary Hart: Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Senator Hart, Ambassador O’Malley, Ladies and Gentlemen,
A Dhaoine Uaisle,
It is a great privilege and pleasure for me to welcome you here to Iveagh House this evening. As Minister, I am delighted to have the opportunity to welcome so many visitors to Iveagh House for this event. – the former home of Guinness family and headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since 1939.
It is, of course, a particular pleasure to welcome Senator Gary Hart to the Department. I most recently met with Senator Hart on 30 October last, in the beautiful Glen of Aherlow, on a bright and sunny October Sunday morning, when Secretary of State John Kerry was awarded the Tipperary Peace Award. This evening, we gather in the heart of Georgian Dublin, with the bright lights of Christmas providing a magical backdrop. Christmas is both a time for reflection and a time of hope. Senator Hart’s title for his talk – “Reflections on Ireland and Its Republic” – is especially timely in this, the centenary year of the 1916 Rising.
While Senator Hart is well-known to us all, I would like to say a few brief words about him, his political achievements, and especially his contribution to the Peace Process.
Sen. Gary Hart is a native of Ottawa, Kansas. Following his studies and work at the US Department of Justice, he was admitted to the bar in both Colorado and the District of Columbia. He served as a US Senator for Colorado from 1975 to 1987. He served as the Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Nuclear Regulation. In this capacity, he flew over the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in a US army helicopter several times, during the nuclear accident there. He led the subsequent US Senate investigation into the accident, which overhauled the regulation of the nuclear energy sector. He served on the Hart-Rudman Commission – examining US homeland security – from 1998, at the request of President Bill Clinton.
In 2001, he was awarded a doctorate from the University of Oxford, with a thesis entitled “The Restoration of the Republic”. This is the topic which he will address this evening.
Throughout his life – as a lawyer, legislator, writer and commentator – Senator Hart has been a steadfast friend of Ireland. In October 2014, President Obama, along with Secretary of State Kerry, appointed him as the new US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Senator Hart has been described by Secretary of State Kerry as: “a problem-solver, a brilliant analyst, and someone capable of thinking at once tactically, strategically, and practically.” I fully endorse these remarks and I would add to them – Senator Hart, as will soon become clear, is also humble, warm and sincere.
Never were these wide array of qualities more evident than in Senator Hart’s work in Northern Ireland, where he has been an effective and engaged representative of his Government and has made a great contribution to the continuing journey of the peace process. I want to express the sincere appreciation of the Government for the support we receive from the US as a close and valued friend to all on this island.
I know that the Senator will agree that the peace we have achieved must be protected and deepened. The Government is committed to reaching an agreement to establish the comprehensive institutional framework to deal with the past envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement, which Senator Hart did so much to support. Only by dealing with these legacy issues in a constructive and coherent way, will we be able to realise a truly reconciled society.
I would like to thank you – Gary – for your service and dedication to Ireland, and for your wise counsel and support in our journey along the path of peace and reconciliation. And I would like to thank you for your personal friendship. You will always have a warm welcome extended to you in Ireland and I hope you will continue to visit us often in the years ahead.
14 December 2016