tv Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland CSPAN August 13, 2016 2:25pm-4:01pm EDT
u.s. senate hosts a program on his efforts to encourage peace in northern ireland. former u.s. envoy george mitchell gives the keynote address followed by a panel , discussion with ambassadors and members of congress and journalists. this 90-minute program begins with remarks by the irish weapon to the u.s.assador anne anderson. >> thank you very much for that introduction. senator mitchell, mrs. vicky kennedy. distinguished panelists. all the distinguished guests. i really am genuinely happy to be here this evening. it is not an easy night for me because the group of my prime minister comes to town tomorrow and they are working very hard the night before but i have to say he's on a kennedy related visit because he comes to the kennedy center tomorrow to open the ireland 100 festival which is the centerpiece of our celebration abroad our 1916
centinary. we felt it had to be in the kennedy center this living memorial to president kennedy. but there are reasons why i absolutely wanted to be here this evening and just let me quickly share with you first it -- a few of them. first, it is our tremendous sense of gratitude to and respect for senator edward kennedy. he was, of course, as we know, the lion of the senate but he was a lion in terms of u.s.irish relationships, i think we all know that. he was there always to understand and explain and advocate the irish interests and to work for peace and reconciliation in northern ireland. i was very proud to be there in
march of last year at the opening of the institute. it was such a moving moment and i loved seeing the recreation of the study. it has an irish flag and signpost and many other signs of his affection for ireland. the second reason is that we are tremendous supporters of and believers in the mission of the institute. in addition to the emphasis on the senate there is that immensely important emphasis on encouraging participatory democracy and invigorating civil discourse. that is important in all of our countries at all times and as a diplomat, i choose my words carefully. but in the midst of where we are in this presidential election campaign in this country, with so many people expressing concerns about the impoverishment of civil discourse and risk to civil
discourse, never has in seemed more relevant and more important to have an institute with the mandate that it has. third, of course, as we know this event is situated in the context of the oral history project. such a treasure trove of 280 or so interviews including interviews with colleagues from my own department. as oral history, it is so important. it is a visit, it is contemporary, it is human and multi-facetted and enriches our sense of history and understanding of history. the fourth reason is tonight is about northern ireland, and we have here senator mitchell and the panelists all of whom played their part in shaping the history and events in northern ireland and as jean said would help understand not just how we
got where we are but how we go forward. and just now in the aftermath of the elections in northern ireland as we think of how to go forward and how to meet the challenges ahead it is so important that we have the enrichment of their insights and wisdom this evening. so it will be a great evening. i'm looking forward to it. thank you for including me. [applause] >> we are very fortunate to have with us tonight the first secretary of the northern ireland bureau stewart matthews. would you join us and have a few words yourself? [applause] >> thank you, dr. mccormick for your warm introduction. mrs. kennedy, senator mitchell, ambassador anderson and distinguished panelists an
guests, it is an honor to represent the northern ireland executive, especially in the presence of so many who stewart: i have been in washington just over three years and i continue to be humbled by the number of people who take such an interest in our little corner of the world and have done so much to help us to progress. tonight i want to pay tribute to the late senator who most definitely was it in for the long game with northern ireland. in our office we have a wonderful photograph of the ceremony when it was first done in may of 2007 after a five-year break and the front row are
senator kennedy and mrs. kennedy. if he were still with us today i hope he would be pleased we have just completed his actions to the northern ireland assembly that mark the completion of two mandates of the assembly since that photograph was taken without any suspensions or breaks. a significant achievement. with an election cycle not dominated as they once were totally by the constitutional question or orange versus politics but by real politics. by the economy. by education. by social welfare and health care. very similar issues that are featured in politics in the u.s. and world over. this i hope is also welcome news to our keynote speaker senator mitchell. i enjoyed the documentary in 2012 when you took your son then 14 to see the assembly working normally on every day proceed
matters and i believe this has continued and is very welcome. the parties are currently negotiating a new program for government for the next mandate and at the center of that will be rebuilding and rebalancing the economy as it has been the last few years. as well as the political support we have enjoyed from you there's been so much support on the economic front. there's 175 u.s.businesses operating across northern ireland employing over 24,000 people. the quality of our workforce is world renown and like any good relationship the situation is cutting two ways. cutting edge and indigenous northern ireland firms are making inroads in u.s.with over $1 billion of goods purchased the last year. that is a staggering increase of 79% over the previous year. the relationship between our part of the world and u.s. goes back a long way. next week may 27 the consulate in belfast will celebrate its 220th anniversary. it was president george washington that signed the order
to establish it in 1796. it is the second oldest u.s. consulate in the world. it is not all about the past. we are looking to the future. we know the u.s. will continue to work with us as we work through the conflicts that need to be addressed and i for one can look forward to with confidence to my children born since that situation in 2007 growing up in northern ireland that is a lot different and brighter than the one i grew up in the 1970's and 1980's. i look forward to a wonderful evening and look forward to being with you this evening. thank you. [applause]
jean: at the institute we make a point of not saying what would senator kennedy say although we have great imitations some of his more roaring speeches by some of the staff. but we would not be there and we do look often to vicky kennedy to tell us are we on the right track for the spirit and values and things that the senator cared about. so i'm pleased to introduce the founding president of our board of trustees vicky kennedy. vicky: thank you, jean. thank you for your leadership. ambassador anderson, first secretary matthews, thank you for joining us. we are grateful for your presence. we are delighted to have such a stellar panel to participate in our panel of peace an reconciliation of northern ireland. senator mitchell whom i will introduce, ambassador soderburg,
neil o'dowd and joined later after votes which all of us in washington understand by congressman neal and congressman king, our moderator kelly o'donnell will be with us. we will have a very lively and interesting discussion. as jean mentioned, this is our second conversation as part of the edward m. kennedy which is 280 candid interviews with elected officials from this nation and abroad. family members, friends and those who have worked with the trenches on the most important issues facing our nation and the world. and there were 29 interviews with teddy himself. the value of this material to historians and for the education of future generations is really unparalleled. it is truly teddy's gift to the ages.
we discuss this evening issues surrounding northern ireland, the conflict there, the role the united states played in helping to resolve the troubles, and, of of course the role that ted kennedy himself played. at least a dozen oral history interviews were specifically focused on irish issues, and many others touched on them. our discussion could not be timelier because we also mark the centenary of the east rising, the first bloody step in a several-year process that led to the independence of the republic of northern ireland. then they remained separated and there was unrest. diasporarish the asper
there remained deep kevin for , what was happening on the emerald isle. shortly after the troubles began in the 1960's, my husband began to immerse himself more deeply and focus in earnest on the possibility for peace and reconciliation in northern ireland. teddy's sister jean kennedy smith who is unable to be with us in person this evening believed in the possibility of peace and reconciliation in northern ireland. she played a key role bringing people together. i encourage you after the program to reads the trips that are on our website at emkinstitute.org. i believe that getting an imminent inside work to the peace process is one of the most
fascinating insights of the edward m. kennedy oral history projects and one of the , indispensable figures is our next speaker. to look at his career is to look at the career of a public servant and a leader. a u.s. attorney, a federal judge, a united states senator, a majority leader in the united states senate, selected six years in a row by a bipartisan group of senators as the most respected senator in that august body. for most people, that would be more than a lifetime of achievement but not for our speaker. after he retired from the senate
he answered the call to serve as chairman of the international commission on disarmament in northern ireland and later as chairman of the subsequent peace negotiation as it culminated in the historic good friday agreement. he's been awarded the philadelphia liberty medal, the truman institute peace prize, the german peace prize, the united nations unesco peace prize, and presidential medal of freedom. i could keep going but i think you get the message. he has shown by witness of his own life that public service is a noble profession and that one man can indeed make a difference. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming him now. my friend, teddy's friends, a true american patriot, senator george mitchell. [applause] senator mitchell: thank you very much, vicky, for that really overly generous introduction. ambassador anderson and
colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here and thank you for your warm reception. we join in a recollection of two great events, northern ireland and ted kennedy. ted was a force of nature as they say, a truly great public servant and a wonderful, wonderful colleague and friend to me during my entire time in the senate. i want to begin with a few stories, because ted, while he's best known for his tremendous legislative record, his contribution to the advancement of our society, in particular to the concepts of equal justice and equal opportunity for all americans. ted was also a great storyteller, joke teller, a
lover of humor, and i can't tell some of the jokes he told. [laughter] i do want toell: tell a couple. the first is how i met ted kennedy. i was serving as a federal judge in maine when senator muskie was appointed secretary of state , creating a vacancy in the senate. the governor of maine, a good irish american man named joe brennen, announced that since it was in the middle of the year , the senate was in session, he didn't want the senate to be underrepresented so he was going to quickly make a decision and he scheduled a press conference just a few days later on a monday noon to announce his decision.
there was a lot of speculation. my name was not included among them because i had been appointed a federal judge just the year before. on the sunday evening before the governor's press conference, i went to bed early. we go to bed early in maine , especially on sunday nights, wondering what the governor was going to do. about 11:00 the phone rang, it was the governor. he said i would like you to come down to the state capitol tomorrow at noon so i can announce that i'm going to appoint you to the senate. i said governor, really a big surprise and big decision. i have been a federal judge less than a year. i have to think about it. he said i will give one hour. when i protested he insisted. so when we hung up i immediately called my family -- i have three older brothers. i grew up in a very small town in maine. my three brothers were very
famous athletes, very prominent in our community and around new england and i came along and i , was not as good an athlete as my brothers. so very early in my life i became known as johnny mitchell's kid brother, the one who isn't any good. as you might expect i developed a massive inferiority complex and highly competitive at attitude toward my brothers. so after i hung up from the governor, i called my brothers ostensibly to seek their advice but i confess there was a note , of triumphalism. [laughter] them this way, guys the governor called and wants to , appoint me to the u.s. senate. what do you think? [laughter] senator mitchell: their reactions much predictably negative. my brother johnny said you should stay where you are because everybody knows you are a born loser, you couldn't possibly win a statewide election. my older brother who fancies
himself an ability it to use discourse said let's first ask . aren't the people of maine entitled to have a qualified person in the senate and isn't it obvious that you are not one of them? i hung up and called the governor and said i don't need an hour. [laughter] senator mitchell: i have received all the assurance of my ability to serve in this job. so i went to the state capitol the next day. he announced and i flew to washington and the swearing in was scheduled for tuesday morning. when i landed at national airport i had nothing to do and on a whim i said to the cab driver take me to the senate side of the capital. i thought i would come up and maybe find the majority leader and introduce myself. i got up to the senate and i was taken in, the senate was in
. the senate was in session debating a bill. and i was taken down to the well to meet the then majority leader robert byrd. he had a vague idea who i was. he was very busy. he said ok young man we will swear you in right now. i protested because i had flown down thinking i wonder if all three networks would be covering it live. i knew for sure all the major newspapers much holding a special edition. i didn't want to upset that schedule. me he saidd said to , son, we are going to swear you in now. i said yes, sir. so i was sworn in. they interrupted the debate, swore me in, and almost immediately thereafter the senate resumed session and the vote occurred. for those interested in political trivia and nobody , would be here if they were not interested in political trivia, i hold the all-time record in american history for having cast a vote the shortest time after
entering the senate. two minutes. that was the first of many informed judgments i made on behalf of you and all the other american people. [laughter] then senatorell: byrd said you should hang around because there's going to be a filibuster tonight and you can see how it works. so not knowing better because i knew nothing about what was happening. i took my seat number 100 way in , the back corner and the whole , senate emptied and i was alone wondering what was going to lap happen. another senator got the attention of the presiding officer and said i would like to say a few words and spoke for six hours. i was the only other senator there so he spoke to me for six , hours. after about three or four, i realized i was not learning anything. i wanted to go about doing the nation's business and i had
, thoughts of leaving. he must have sensed it because he walked over and stood in front of me and directed his remarks toward me. after six hours there was a quorum called, how they keep it going many of you know when a , vote occurs lights flash and flash, the bell rings. the other 98 poured in and cast votes signifying their presence, really. and then the filibuster resumed. another guy came on and the others left and this guy spoke to me for six hours. so i stayed up all night sitting in the senate serving as an audience. finally, i was very tired and hungry and i went over it a clerk standing by the side door and i asked him, look, i'm sorry to bother you. i'm new here. he said senator, that is obvious to everyone. [laughter] senator mitchell: i said i'm here thinking i'm serving the nation and i'm wondering all these other senators, they are not here. what do they do? where do they go?
he said i will show you. i took me around to a room behind the senate chamber. there's a big, looks like a hallway. it is called the reading room and like a library in back converted into a place where senators sleep during the filibusters. they bring in narrow folding cots the type you see in emergency shelters and he took me in and there lying there were bunch of old mostly white guys snoring way. he said there's a cot in the middle. there are no aisles. he said you better grab that i one. had to climb over other senators to get there. who was the first person i had to climb over? ted kennedy. and, of course, you know, vicky, he was not a slight fellow. [laughter] senator mitchell: and so getting over him to me at the time felt like i was climbing mount everest without equipment. i used all the athletic skill my brothers said i don't have and got over him without disturbing him.
and before i was able to congratulate myself i looked on the next cot was senator jesse helms of north carolina. i had not been there long but i was aware of his reputation as a staunch defender of heterosexual rights. [laughter] so, i wastchell: really worried climbing over him. imagining the controversy if i lost my balance and fell on top of him right in the presence of a lot of famous people. so i made it across without disturbing either of them. i got on this cot and started to think what a huge mistake i had made. i had been a federal judge, a distinguished person with a robe. people stood up when i came into the room and sat down and got up
when i left the room. here i was just one more of these guys snoring away overnight and i wallowed in self-pity. then i rolled over on this cot and i looked just inches away into the face of the senator on the next cot. it was john warner of virginia. at that time he was married to elizabeth taylor. i thought to myself, who am i to feel sorry for myself. [laughter] senator mitchell: here is a guy who could be home, legally in bed with elizabeth taylor, and he is spending the night with me. so, i realized then that no matter how bad off you have it there is always some guy who has , got it worse. i resolved not to feel sorry for myself. [laughter] [applause] senator mitchell: the next time
the bells rang and lights flashed, it was by then early morning and i made it a point , when i got up to walk around, stand by the door so when teddy got himself up and assembled i introduced myself to him right there in the chamber where we all slept, and that was my first meeting with ted kennedy. unforgettable for me. i'm sure he didn't remember for a very long time. i do want to tell one other story, which is a teddy favorite. later of course we got to be very good friends and i made many appearances in boston at various political events often with ted and john kerry and sometimes with the two of them together. and i told this story which is partially true, that they got a kick out of, teddy got a kick out of.
for reasons which you will understand in a moment. i would go to boston teddy would say you are going to tell that story about the big dig tonight, aren't you? i said i don't know. john kerry would say you are not going to tell that damn desire about the big dig. we have heard enough of that. we are sick of it. teddy would say, no, no, you tell the story. i insist. here is the story i would tell about teddy and kerry and the big dig. teddy in the senate and tip o'neill in the house got included in the authorization on one of what we call the highway bill, the transportation bill for the big dig in boston. , the huge effort to reduce traffic by building an underground network of roads under the city, very controversial, very expensive. before they started there was a , change in the administration in massachusetts and the newly elected governor didn't want the project to be retained.
so he got in touch with president reagan and asked him to, in his budget, withdraw support authorization for the big dig. so, teddy and john and the massachusetts house members were upset and they were deeply concerned and wanted to fight hard to make sure the effort to remove the funding authorization did not succeed. it turned out that neither ted nor john kerry were on the authorizing committee but i was chafee, anhn's republican senator from rhode island. when we got to the portion of the authorization bill that included the big dig and highway stuff teddy would call me at 7:00 in the morning and say now, you are going to fight like hell today for the big dig, right? tell me what you are going to do.
i would say we will do our best. then at 7:15 john kerry would call and repeat the thing. so, we would go in at 9:00 and start on the bill and about that time teddy and john kerry would put out press releases of how much they are doing to save the big dig and authorizing bill and chafee and i would beg people to do it and we would read how much teddy and john had done that day. it went on several months. we were able to keep it in and they had many press conferences about it. then they developed a question about what would the name, what name would go on the tunnel under boston harbor that was a major part of the big dig project. so i went to see ted and i said teddy i think the harbor tunnel should be named after me.
[laughter] senator mitchell: he said you? that is ridiculous. he said you are not even from massachusetts. you are from maine. i said yes, but i'm the one who did all the work. he said what has that got to do with it? i said well, look, ted, here is the reality. you can't take 10 steps in boston without running into something named after a kennedy. you can't drive anywhere in massachusetts without crossing kennedy bridges or kennedy highways, but you search this find a thing can't named after john kerry, then he was not as famous as he is now. he was not nominated for president or named secretary of state. he is going to insist that this
tunnel be named after this. so you have two choices. it is either the kerry tunnel or the mitchell tunnel. the mitchell tunnel. he said it sounds ok to me. [laughter] so then i wentl: to see john kerry and i basically told the same story saying john, the kennedys have everything named after them in massachusetts. you think they are going to let you get a prize like this? i have searched the state of massachusetts and the only thing i can find named after you is a car wash in chicopee. [laughter] they are neverl: going to give this thing up, so i said john you have two choices. it is either going to be the kennedy tunnel or the mitchell tunnel. he looked out the window and said the mitchell tunnel, that sounds good to me. so i had the support of both of them but others didn't agree and , they came up with a guy named really dids, who deserve it. that is how the harbor tunnel
was built and named for ted williams in behalf of ted kennedy. [laughter] [applause] senator mitchell: let me say a few serious words. ted was indisputably one of the great legislators in our nation's entire history. he served for about 47 years in the senate. it really was his home. it was the place where he found himself most comfortable and most effective and he truly did love the senate. he made major contributions to it. i will speak of northern ireland in a moment but i have to say , that no single person with our
in our history had a greater commitment to the ideal of equal justice and equal opportunity for all americans regardless of their background or status. and in particular he stood for the principle that healthcare for americans is not a privilege, not to be rationed based upon status or wealth, but something that should be available in good quality to every single person in our society? and he fought for his entire life for that principle and was successful in making many steps
possible moving toward that objective. he and i and chafee for a time worked closely together in 1993 and 1994 trying to advance president clinton's healthcare initiative. we got to august and i canceled the senate recess and i kept the senate in session to try to move the bill forward over overwhelming opposition. when it became clear to me at least and to president clinton that the bill could not succeed, i made the decision, controversial, difficult for me, to take the bill down and to end debate on it. we had a caucus of democratic
senators, and many of them expressed their views. many of them wanted the bill taken down because it was obvious that it could not be enacted. ted resisted to the very end. he so deeply and passionately felt the importance that every american child have good quality care and that every american citizen have the same opportunity for a healthy and long life, that he didn't want to give up, even in the face of those odds. we did take the bill down, and i'm sure vicky will agree with me that it was a tremendous monument to ted kennedy when the affordable care act was enacted.
imperfect as are all human efforts and certainly all legislation that gets through the senate particularly legislation that is difficult, controversial, with many compromises that have to be made. and it will be decades before it sorts itself out and reaches the equilibrium to do the most at least cost. but every time i read a story about the affordable care act, about obamacare, i think first and foremost about ted kennedy, who devoted a great deal of his life, his energy, and his effort to making that possible. and i believe in a very real way he did make it possible because the incremental advances for which ted was responsible helped to inform the american people of the principles that he
represented of the importance to , it in our society. he won many victories in the senate. he's rightfully acclaimed for a long roster of achievements. but in my mind the fact that we didn't, we couldn't get it done when we had it on the send and floor and that it , finally get done with ted's effort and insistence because he didn't give up. the day after i took the bill down ted started thinking about , what can we do next. what smaller step can we take that will make it possible. to me, that demonstrated, that illustrated, represented what ted kennedy was as a human being and leader and as a legislator. he was also -- and i will get now briefly to northern ireland -- he was crucial to my involvement in the process.
my father's parents were born in ireland. they emigrated to the united states in the 1890's. we know little about them because my father was born in boston, but never knew his parents and was raised in a catholic orphanage. years, his mother died early and father couldn't and myr the children , father was adopted by an elderly couple who ended up in a small town in maine. they were not irish. so my father who was not educated and worked as a laborer and janitor and my mother was an immigrant and couldn't read or write new little about history or current affairs and nothing about ireland. i never once heard my father say the word. one day in the senate ted asked if i would meet with him and
chris dodd, and i went to ted's hideaway in the capitol, a small office just off the senate floor. and i spent about an hour with him as he spoke to me, described to me the circumstances that then existed, the nascent efforts to achieve cease fires and establish a sense of negotiation, and asked if i would join with he and chris and pat moynihan in taking some steps that would help to move it forward. i did so not out of any deep knowledge of northern ireland or ireland. i at that time had never been it in either. but out of great respect for ted and for the sense that he conveyed that this was the right thing to do. later, when president clinton asked me to go to northern ireland, i accepted. and i spent several years there
learning about the issues, understanding, meeting and understanding the motives and platforms of the various political parties and political figures. and through it all, ted was to me a mentor and someone who i knew was passionate about moving it forward. and looking back on it, he did have a, he did make a tremendous contribution because he influenced members of the senate as he did me and the american public in two very important respects. he got those who favor the side of nationalism to understand that the only real way forward was through peaceful negotiations. he was very much influenced by
john hume, as i was and other members of congress who got to meet and to know john, and by other northern ireland nationalist leaders. and teddy also instinctively understood, he was so good at grasping the intention and attitudes of the other side that it was equally critically important to make unionists feel at home in this country, to have them have the opportunity to come here and see that the united states was not monoliftic monolithic in its views on the issues, and indeed most americans didn't have much grasp of it. and ted made it a point to personally acquaint himself with some unionist leaders to invite them here. and i always think of it as a culminating event, although it
was not ted who exclusively did it, but after we got the agreement the j.f.k. center and teddy attended the session, brought over political leaders from northern ireland from both communities and awarded them the j.f.k. profile in courage award. it meant a great deal it them and indicated that, after not just decades but centuries of hostility and conflict, both very little in the way of communication, understanding, or empathy for another position, that it was the master legislator ted kennedy, the man who although he was widely , viewed as a partisan figure, was in the senate regarded as one of the most effective bipartisan legislators in history.
because he could listen. he had empathy for other positions. he was able to quickly discern and identify potential areas of common ground and with his , tremendous friendly vivacious and irresistible attitude and sense of humor and force of his personality, to persuade people to come together. he had done in so often in the legislative process and he , really was hugely instrumental in doing it in northern ireland. while i have always said and believed that the true lees of northern ireland were the political leaders of northern ireland on both sides who, after centuries of conflict, of lifetimes of their being deeply involved in conflict, violent and political, rose to the occasion at a critical moment in
announcer their society's histot enormous risks to themselves and their careers and took a step of courage that was made possible the peace that has held for 18 years and we hope will hold for many, many more. my fondest wish is that everybody here and others involved, whenever they hear about northern ireland whenever , they think about northern ireland, whenever they go to northern ireland, will keep in mind one much the truly great architects of that process as well as so much that he did for this country and that was ted , kennedy. i was greatly honored to serve with him in the senate and very proud personally to have been his friend. so, i'm really thrilled at the opportunity to be here today. thank you, vicky, so much for making it possible.
i look forward to participating with the panel in the discussion and i thank all of you for coming to honor one of the great men in american history. american, and perhaps all of american history. our friend and great senator, ted kennedy. thank you very much. [applause] jean: thank you very much, senator. could i invite our other panelists to come up and join the senator. nancy soderburg, the former u.s. ambassador at the united nations and has had many prestigious
positions but was a foreign policy advisor to senator kennedy. niall o'dowd, founder and c.e.o. of irish central. he will weave in the other roles. i saw congressman neal and congressman king. two who continue to be paying attention to all things irish in the congress. and they are joined by nbc correspondent kelly o'donnell, who could not be more irish. kelly and o'donnell. who is going to facilitate a discussion on the panel. we are enormously grateful for all of you being able to be here with us today.
kelly: it is really my privilege not only does the same sound irish but i'm the granddaughter , of irish immigrants and anything something related to vicky and kennedy the answer is yes. it is a privilege to be here. i care about these issues as i have had the privilege of covering the senate, covering store kennedy when he was with us and covering some of these issues in real-time. and i also have the personal experience my family is from the republic ireland and northern ireland and so i have seen it , through the family for the of experience as well. so, since we have had an introduction from senator mitchell about his involvement, one thing i would like to do is get a sense from each of our panelists of how you think that senator kennedy's personal relationship made a difference. let me start with you congressman king because i know you have had a close relationship with jerry adams and have known how senator kennedy helped to bring him to the united states at a critical time. can you take us back to that and talk about it? rep. king: it would have been in
1994, january of 1994. there was an effort to get him here and the president was leaning in that direction but he needed the effort of ted kennedy because that made it official and showed it was respected and that it was not something coming in from left field or right field and it impressed upon jerry adams and the i.r.a. it was for real and if they did break confidence and did violate any agreements or understandings it was not just me or richard neal it was ted kennedy and that would resonate. kelly: it was high risk because he was associated with violence and this was a move toward statesmanship.
how risky was it? rep. king: it was high risk. i didn't have as much to lose as steady kennedy. seriously this was a real risk for somebody like ted kennedy whose whole name and reputation feels on the line. kelly: senator mitchell when you , remember that when president clinton was listening to what senator kennedy will to say you were involved and when there was that move to see if those who were associated with more of the armed struggle would be moving and if there would be a receptive audience in the united states what is your sense of that time? that is thehell: period in which ted and chris dodd first approached me. that was the specific request at the time. i was in the senate majority then and didn't know a great deal about the subject. i think i had a general knowledge of it. but ted spent a lot of time with me in his words educating me about the issue as he did on many others. [laughter] senator mitchell: and after some considerable period of review
through my staff and others, i made the decision to join in signing of the letter that was sent to the president by members of congress. so, that really was my baptism into the issue. and from -- and it was as peter said, it was a risky thing. nobody knew for sure what would happen. there was very determined opposition to it within the u.s. government and within the state department. , the british government, and many others, so it was not an open and shut case. i think peter and richard would agree and neil and nancy as well had not ted been the principal advocate, it likely would not have occurred. i think that is probably the although president clinton
, will made an issue of it way back in the campaign two or three years earlier. nonetheless, i think that ted's very strong weighing in and getting others like myself and chris and pat and congressmen probably was the decisive factor. congressman neal, can you recall what it was like some of the allegiances an people in government felt because britain , is the first among equals for allies of the united states and there was this push to try to recognize what was happening in ireland and open a new door. how hard was that at the time? rep. neal: i think teddy was
very helpful. the entire massachusetts delegation signed the letter. i defended president clinton on news night. that was the equivalent of a late night talk show here in america. and we decided to stand shoulder to shoulder. but there was a very important meeting that i think bears noting and that was tony lake had ventured some, i think, effort on our part and not what really happened after bill clinton got elected. there was a about a year and it languished and he agreed it meet with about 40 on capitol hill and didn't work. it was a pretty bad meeting. kelly: what were the issues? rep. neal: he had not moved as quickly as he said he would on the issue. and to the special relationship and the state department pushed back hard on this. i think that one thing we can all take some credit for sitting on the stage here, that we stood up for our own state department including bill clinton and teddy , kennedy. the state department was death on this. they made the argument that it was internal to the united
kingdom. they gave us plenty of advice on international issues through vietnam and others and we should be able to express the will of many of the constituents we had. so, you could see the momentum began to move, and nancy will confirm when lake left the room , he said -- and this is a really incredible -- he said i promise you this. i will elevate there issue to the status of the middle east in the white house and we were , stunned. that is how bad the meeting went. kelly: and nobody believed him. rep. neal: and nobody believed him. next thing i know we are on a speed course and for me it starts with bobby sands. so there was a lot of legacy in my constituency. i think the other point i heard senator mitchell say, which is important, we had to continue to nurture this. it is not over. morning headlines and evening newscast still report periodic violence and while we have this achievement that we can take the
necessary bow on, not to miss the point it is time to decommission the hearts. kelly: ambassador soderburg you were in the room when there were long difficult roadblocks and you couldn't necessarily see around the corner as to how quickly it would unfold. what are some your memories about what was happening that was not known to the public that you had that insight in your relationship with senator kennedy on this whole process? ambassador soderburg: i had the honor and privilege of being the irish person for senator kennedy for six years, which meant the entire island took his everyone is welcome on his front door
literally and i met i have politician that had come through. first and foremost john hume who formed a bond with senator kennedy in the 1970's when the troubles start and that was a life-long relationship. everything you said about the jokes back and forth they bonded and john hume developed with senator kennedy and others a counterpart to the caucus in the house that was more aligned with sinn fein and the ira, so every year i wrote that and got to know everybody. >> you are the one who wrote those statements? [laughter] ambassador soderburg: we would look at yours and have another one. unbeknownst to me i found myself in white house considered the irish expert because i had
worked with ted kennedy and , everybody look at ted kennedy as the bellwether on which way to go. and bill clinton did promise jerry adams a visa during the campaign. it was before i got on the campaign or i probably would have to throw my body in front of it. the request came right away and we said no and nobody cared and that is partly where the house was angry because they didn't believe us. we were accused of lying and it was a very intense meeting. what shifted the ground was john hume coming to the white house in the fall saying something was happening with the i.r.a. and we were hearing from peter king and not just congressman neal but but bruce morrison and everyone , was saying there was a week-long cease-fire and everyone saying it was really changing. the c.i.a., f.b.i., british government, the justice department, and state department said, no nothing is changing. , the only ones who knew what was going on were the people on the hill had the contacts and john hume finally said you should do it. the joint declaration put forward by the british and irish government was the linchpin because it gave a political way
for the i.r.a. it achieve its political goals and that was the , fundamental change and really was what altered the white house, it was, the white house wanted to do it and said find a way. but until ted kennedy came over and he was guided by john hume , it was a nonstarter, so had he not help that cover for the president to go ahead and reach convince the president , if he put his political not on the line we , could either find out whether jerry adams was serious or not. if it was, great. we get a cease-fire. if not we can use our political , clout to go back to the irish american community and say see, he is a fraud and he won't do it. and that was ted kennedy's logic in the letter and in doing it. i remember when that letter
showed up. it was an enormous long list and i think that is what changed it and gave the new president the guts to stand up to his entire government which ted kennedy had , no problem doing. that was definitely the muse that got everything moving. kelly: when you saw how the public was coming along during this time was there a reluctance , to believe that peace was possible? was there a sense of fear that the negotiations and efforts were somehow going to be undermined? >> i would like to talk briefly about the moment when ted kennedy saved the peace process , and only ted kennedy. that was in 1996 when the cease-fire broke down. right at that moment this peace process wavered like i never believed it wavered again. i got angry calls from nancy soderburg, senator kennedy and the prime minister of ireland saying what is going on, what has happened? are the i.r.a. back in business and is this the end of
everything? that was a very profound moment. i knew as nancy says if we could keep kennedy, we could keep clinton. and i remember having a long discussion with jerry adams that day and saying jerry we to have tell the truth. can you get the cease-fire back ? and one thing about jerry when , when he told you something, it was the truth. it was the truth. he said i can get the cease-fire back. he explained what had happened. i remember calling back nancy and senator kennedy and saying it is going to be ok, they are going to get cease-fire and i think it was senator kennedy because people were running for exit. they were saying we told you said and we have been had and people piling on saying they are a bunch of terrorists and in the midst of that a man with a
, terrific terrible history of assassination and killing in his own family saw around the corner far enough that he said no, i trust these guys. i think they can do it. to me that was the most profound moment i saw senator kennedy save the peace process on his own. >> teddy kennedy actually jerry adams at logan airport. he met him at the airport. teddy led the rally in boston. they were waiting for him at the airport. by now, the cameras are really focused on this and by the time they moved through central massachusetts, the cameras were everywhere. we did some symbolic things that were very important. we can't just say we are going to sign a letter. stand up witho you in public, and that way you hold people to the agreements. >> this is probably sacrilegious
, john hume had missed some opportunities in the 1980's, i certainly think so. i think the irish government was very remiss coming huge human rights abuses, and for some reason the irish government at the time told the friends of ours in the congress, do not compete on this issue. did not say this is a travesty, a terrible miscarriage. obvious from the community, issues which would have stopped radicalization in the north, if we had tackled issues, other inquiries into bloody sunday, but there was a certain view it that point that it had to be the irish and british governments.
he pushed very hard for it. >> i hate to take you that, but it did not come across, other than the fact that there was an irish american and competition with the irish government, john hume, and the british government. they got out. in 1992 president back and snuck in the back door when bill clinton was meeting with democrats. relieswhen he said he that the old distinctions, rivalries, alliances did not mean that much, and this was unique opportunity for the united states to be a broker between the british and the irish, and that's when he said he would give jerry adams a visa. he did show them more than i am
for the irish. can change the international opportunity. he thought this was a unique opportunity. i remember that dinner we said, being he quite kind, but it is all fun and games, and then he said i started to get serious about it in spite of myself. of a political process in a very busy campaign. once he had waited into it, he found -- >> the fact that all these promises occurred right before the new york primary -- [laughter] >> certainly quincy it ends. ambassador soderburg: he wanted to do it.
to this. testify he had been at oxford when the troubles began and felt he could play a role. one other comment. toanted to give a shout out senator kennedy's appointment of his sister jean. she was the only person in the entire u.s. government who did not agree with the government. she stood up, sent these messages, working the phones just like he was. she was not an insignificant player. >> and nobody was more abused than the state department. they went out of their way to harass her and drive her crazy. it is always underreported, the british decision to search
bill clinton's passport files just before the election was a huge moment, because all of a sudden he started to think that maybe there is another side to the argument we side. you needed somebody in the white house to acquaint him with the fact that this is worth doing. teddy was terrific. , and in thegone now house -- >> he is still wearing the green tie. >> i did that for you. one of the outcomes of the good friday agreement, it said both points of view are viewed as legitimate, those in ireland that wanted to remain a part of the united kingdom and those that wanted a republic. how important was that? at the time and for the enduring success of the agreement?
rep. mitchell: there could not absent ofan agreement the recognition of the validity of both points of view. and the opportunity and appropriateness of each side continuing to advocate their point of view. the central issue was the mechanism by which they would do the advocacy. and it was perhaps one of half a dozen crucial elements to the agreement. there were several others. i just want to add a comment to what was said about president clinton's commitment. i was not there early in the process as i said in my remarks i really did not have any great , deal of knowledge about the subject. but when president clinton asked me to go to northern ireland, nancy was instrumental in that
in the white house at the time. he said i'm really serious about , this. he said the reason i'm asking , you to do this is you are the retiring senate majority leader, and if you go at my request and as my representative, it will convey a signal of how much i'm interested. and he was deeply in pursuit, two years later, in a crucial --e that richard referred to in september of 1996 during the presidential campaign, the president called me and asked if i would return to the u.s. to play the role of bob dole in the debate preparation in the presidential campaign. [laughter] because i served
six years with bob dole. he remains a close friend to this day. and i agreed and the first debate was in hartford i think. >> it was. rep. mitchell: and the preparation was in new york, not where the clintons live but in the famous resort in the northwestern part of the state. i flew from northern ireland back, got the first evening and -- got there the first evening and the president asked me to have dinner with him and mrs. clinton. there were some others at the table. i tried to break myself on the debate. the entire conversation at dinner was about northern ireland. the entire dinner, he spent the whole night asking questions, wanting to know about it and i , was kind of taken aback. and i remember saying, are you interested in the debate? [laughter] rep. mitchell: shouldn't we talk
about that? and we did talk about that a little bit. we did. and on the final night he stayed up all night in the white house. i will never forget it. it was 3:00 in the morning, we were struggling trying to bring , to a conclusion, i'd set a deadline for midnight and it had passed. he called me and i said, what are you doing? it must be the middle of the night there. he said yet is, i can't sleep i want to help. he volunteered kind people. he was interested and committed and this was a very, very -- to very high degree of importance to him and to mrs. clinton as well. >> did you get a sense that president clinton thought that if agreement was achievable in this part of the world, that success could be transferable to
other complex around -- conflicts around the world. that a political resolution could be found. did he see a broader implication or was it really about just what was in front? rep. mitchell: he may have felt that, but it was never conveyed to me. he never cited as a reason to do this and it might be helpful to us. as it turns out, -- while all of these conflicts have some similarities, they are essentially unique each one. and each one requires a unique, very highly localized and specific to that conflict resolution principles and , approaches can be universal. but actual solutions cannot be. >> one aspect of the northern ireland talks, going into those talks, gerry adams looked at that opportunity and i do not think that the unionists ever thought things we negotiated.
-- thought that they would need to negotiate. you have two guys have been contemplating this for 20 years, and really nobody on the union side was really ready to talk about a political solution. i think that is correct, peter. i think it goes beyond that. i have said and written that it goes to the subplot, the inter-unionist conflict. there was intense hostility to twain the dup headed by dr. paisley, a smaller party and the lc unionists which by then at that time the larger party headed. >> there were six or eight parties involved at the time. >> yes. there were actually 10 political parties if you can imagine. with two governments. will --
[laughter] >> i would be interested in your comments, clinton has commented that if adams -- there would have been decently middle east. do you think there's any substance of truth to that? >> no i don't really. it's a great line, but -- >> they are so different. i have spent more time with arafat than i did with adams. i just want to say that peter hit something there. credit, johnus created the concept of the talks, the architecture under which they could be created. that was his contribution. john was not a detailed guide. if you wanted to negotiate a parallel agreement, you when -- you would not ask him to negotiate it.
though, ofconception how to do it. basically by a grain to talk with adams -- by agreeing to talk with adams and involving reynolds, to form a national group. when they get into the talks, they were not fighting each other all the time, where as the unionists were in constant contact. i do not think we would have gotten an agreement had paisley not walked out. remember, gerry adams and that the -- because of their affiliation were not in the talks for the first 16 months. and when they came in, all of the unionists walked out. but trumbo and the loyalist parties came back in, paisley did not. and that liberated the unionists from a daily terrific assault that they felt internally very --e the u p was
the struggle for control of unionism was a dominant part of the talks. on the national aside, because of john hume's, that did not occur. historians may think that they paid a price for it. and they did. nonetheless they had a generally , unified position. >> i can confirm that, i'll tell you how. tom foley who is not enthusiastic about any of this , and was really harsh when somebody was in the house. i said i think it's for real mr. , speaker. i would like to go. grudgingly he okayed the money for me to go. that was the day of the good friday agreement. the cease-fire was announced. >> did you know that? rep. neal: i knew it was coming.
i met john hume. i went to his home. he said you're going to see adams tomorrow. he went to the phone and called adams on the phone. to george's point, one of the things that he did, he used a lot of his own political capital on this. and in the end, the british government, it is fair to say, would always say to us, you need to prop up your u p. and the irish government would say, you need to prop up. and in the end, it is the upa and -- and if i could ask a question of george, because it was a work of genius, the hours government gave out articles of two and three of their government -- of their constitution. think that there in lies
the genius of the agreement. it goes to belfast and dublin. >> one of the reasons we were able to get an agreement was that there are so many issues that it was possible to divide , -- devise an agreement in which you could balance off different interests. it's really very hard to solve when you have only one issue. because somebody has to win or lose and in northern ireland, there is no such thing as a magnanimous winner. you poke somebody with a stick to see who won and who lost. so you are right. that ito add the comment profoundly believe. i also think that there is not good enough recognition of the contribution and cost that was paid by david trumbull. what he did was very courageous under the circumstances.
he was subjected to tremendous internal criticism, both within unionism from dr. paisley and the u.k. ub, but also within his own party which suffered greatly as a result. andhe rose to the occasion it ended up costing him his leadership and largely his career in northern ireland. and i think that the nobel peace committee got it right. there would not have been a process without john hume, and there would not have been an agreement without david trumbull. >> i can add, to put in a word for adams. i remember meeting him in 1987 in belfast. he was then talking about what he was trying to do to bring the ira along. that was seven years before. and you have the guys that have been fighting for 80 years. they felt like they were be
trade time after time by the political leaders. and jerry seinfeld as may be the next michael collins. so it took a lot of guts. 1990s not up until maybe three or 1994 when he had a solid majority on his side. >> he and martin were both outstanding leaders within their own party and organization and bringing along many people who did not share their view that they had gone as far as they could through military means and that the only path forward to success was through democratic and peaceful means. they, i do not think any of them will admit it, but it is clear in retrospect that they could not have achieved this goal, which was driving the british
out of northern island by force of arms. it simply was counterproductive. in fact i spent a lot of time in , the u.k., northern ireland it ireland, it allows more interest in an england scotland -- england, scotland and wales than would otherwise been the case. they are thinking, they will not drive us out of there. and they had gone as far as they could go and it was jerry and martin that recognized that and said that they needed to make the shift and to their credit, they negotiated very well. whethered adams once, bill clinton had been an office in the 1980's, could they have done this earlier? because jerry had started the talks earlier. and he said, no, we were not ready. it took them that long. goal to keep the ira
from splinting. -- splitting. that's kind of what happened on the cease-fire broke down. it largely happened. i've does that to the questions -- i want to go to the questions from senator mitchell. i'm very concerned about the lack of progress since the good friday agreement. you still have this exact same people in the same mindset fighting about the same issues and the government. i just wonder, and this is where i think where somebody like ted kennedy could have gone over and pushed them a little bit harder than is being done now. in my view, they need a new generation that thinks about high-tech firms in the economy, some of the issues. right now, the police has a couple of catholics in it. what do you think in the mentality that is generation on -- generational on this case, probably two generations before they will be able to drop those anchors that are dragging them down. it's surprising to me that that
mindset is still -- >> we are running short on time. if you can give us some summary thoughts about where we are now. and i would like to ask each of you, because you're rich you're richs -- recollections are speaking to what reality is. people who are personal recollections and relationships that shape history then and will educate us for generations to come. so if we can close with some of those. senator mitchell? >> we will let sam go first. >> i think when tony blair was leaving, he invited some of us to the british and secret to say -- british embassy to say goodbye. and he stood up and said, i think it's fair to say that america and great britain have agreed on most issues through our common history. but he said, there was one issue that we did not agree upon. the north of ireland.
i want to thank all of you, he said, for what you did to help bring us into the process. to have a british prime minister say that -- and i probably caught another break, he was looking for a reset for his own career and he gets credit for that. think of it tonight. if we were sitting here 25 years ago, there were 35,000 british soldiers in an area the size of the state of connecticut in the north of ireland. the watchtowers were all over the place. and to nancy's point, 30% of the police service of northern ireland is now catholic, they were heading toward 45%. so it is a huge accomplishment. there have been these broad reforms. there are no problem -- there are problems, no question about it. there is a government representative of traditions in one community that is
functioning and has been duly elected. >> thoughts about where we are today and where we think the legacy of this is? >> i want to tell one funny story about nancy, if i can? [laughter] >> i don't know if there is time. >> the night before gerry adams visa was crafted by president clinton, nancy called me in the middle of the night and said, what does jerry adams had to do with the bombing in san diego? and i said what are you talking , about? she said, there have been to phoned into the san diego area by the ira. at this stage, i was extremely tired and i thought maybe she was hallucinating as well. the idea of the ira carrying out this attack in san diego is so insane. i remember saying to her, what do you need me to do? getshe said, you have to them to apologize for the ira
threatening san diego. i said, the ira did not put any bonds in san diego. obviously of the blanket a -- obviously it looked like a trick. you tell adams to apologize for this and i guarantee that is that and that is exactly what happened. [laughter] so, i said to gerry adams, you need to apologize for the bombs in san diego. and he said, does that mean i need to apologize every time an irishman hits an englishman. [laughter] >> if you told me 25 years ago that ian paisley and martin mcguinness would be in power together, i would've suggest ed a good psychiatrist. i think that we are too close to it. i think that the notion of self improving, if you look at the elections recently there was an , interesting left-wing party getting support in west belfast who aren't political and anyway
in the old-fashioned way. that could be the beginning -- are obviously very focused on the south as well because there are the third-largest party there. i think it will take another generation. i think, peace will come slowly. quickly, neil was with adams on the terrorist list and we were not allowed to talk. and i have to say that to the point of honesty, neil as a journalist -- was a journalist, and i was talking through a journalist to him and to adams, so never once was there any breach of confidence. so i want to thank you for that. and adams was frustrated once you did commit -- get him to commit to yes. but it was an impressive code of honor. and i think it is irreversible. one or twoe were
people dying each year. there is no doubt about that. walking around alive, and that thing. and i think the good friday agreement never would have happened without your patience. i would just like to close with a shout out to the oral history. it was vicki has been putting together. i didn't go to the and to do, it is unbelievable. please go. it is a unique -- i had read through a lot of the oral histories that are already online for this. if you are here and your already -- and you are already interested in this, take a look. one person who should be here is kerry parker. she was the music ted kennedy through his entire career, do all of it. and really, his oral history i
would recommend to all of you. he was the muse behind not just the average process or whatever he did, but thank you to vicki for putting the event together and also for what you are doing to preserve the legacy, not to of your husband, but also of the senate. he was there through it all. and he is in a better place for it. thank you. >> closing thoughts? >> there is no comparison between today and 25 years ago. rep. king: they were only certain taxicabs you could take. belfastant to go to there were no restaurants or , bars in downtown belfast, people do not go shopping downtown belfast. today, probably the people who suffered the most, the public is , nowe -- public owners
people can go to town and bars and restaurants. adams said that he wanted to be able to sit in a restaurant with his son in belfast, without worrying about getting shot. the old world is change. i take it anecdotally. the first 10 years from 92, all these kids knew about was -- they could tell you about every battle and everybody that was shot and killed. now, it is like us talking about the american revolution and the civil war. it's ancient history. that is a generational change. this is something that their grandparents talk about and the way that they look at it and not realizing that it is only 18 years ago that we had the good friday agreement. one thing we can also take for much of said tonight, the good friday agreement should be the holy thursday agreement. but the irish did not get there in time. [laughter] let me just say, the
u.s. was the guarantor of the peace talks, but really ted kennedy's reputation and name of the guarantor, i can tell you , jerry adams and martin mcguinness, special people the republican side, -- really just having ted there is a presence , it meant so much. thank you. >> senator mitchell. rep. mitchell: before i went to northern ireland, sent a good -- i spent a good bit of time in the balkans. in connection with the conflict there. i recall traveling to a small town along the border of bosnia and croatia. it had been about 50-50 serving -- 50-50 serbian croat when the actual war began, the serbs gain the upper advantage, took control of the town and burn ed down every building in the town that it was owned by croat. a few months later the tide of war changed.
then the reverse occurred. when i went to their, literally all of the buildings had been destroyed. i talked to a young mayor, a very nice man. and i asked, how long do you think it will be before the serbs and croats will be able to live in this town side-by-side in peace again? and he said, we will repair our buildings long before we repair of souls. that will take generations. and the reality is, in all human conflict the most important and , yet most difficult task is to change what is in people's minds and hearts. i think it will take generations, and i think it will be when all of those who lived in, during, or at the time of the conflict have passed and one for all living in northern ireland it is a matter of
history. they take history very seriously there, more than we do. nonetheless, if you suffered through the conflict and you endured the conflict, you cannot let go of things as you can when it is a memory, not a real life event. so i don't think we should be too harsh. in fact, i go to northern ireland a lot and invariably the askrters ask me commit -- me, is a terrible the way things are out here and with the fighting? and i say, you should travel to the u.s. and turn on the tv. if you want to see conflict. we should not hold the people of northern ireland to a standard higher than we would apply to ourselves or to other societies. they are tremendously energetic, productive, strong, and affected -- effective people.
they will build a truly successful society and overcome the heritage of the past. it will take a long time but , they will get there. and i think that the numbers on both sides who are still disgruntled and want their way 100%, and are willing to use violence to get there are decreasing in number. and we they are small cannot let them take control of the agenda that the vast majority of people in their support piece and progress and prosperity for all. >> i'm sure you will join me in thanking the incredible panel for sharing their insight. [applause] is written in the headlines and history books, but you can see that their personal experiences, their personal
relationships, and their memories are part of what makes it rich and what a great experience. it is reflected by much in the oral history a part the dmk institute. please take a look at that. you will learn so much more and you brought it to life tonight. thank you also very much. appreciate it. [applause] >> thank you as well. thatomised the congressmen we would have closer remarks, but i feel like we just made those remarks. thank you so much. interested in american history tv? visit our website. you can see our upcoming schedule or watch a recent program. american artifacts, road to the white house rewind, lectures of history and more. at c-span.org/history. , a documentary film instructor talks about his
students and their award-winning documentaries. some of them have been grand prize winners in our student competition. he teaches in oklahoma. >> i am not the kind of teacher that will look at something not very good and just say, that is nice, you did a nice job with that. i will say, what is not working? and eventually every single one of the kids makes a better piece band they did in the beginning. every single one. and eventually the kids that do very well, they internalize the stuff. so i no longer have to say to them, their own brain is saying these things. >> sunday night, 8:00 p.m. eastern . >> next on history bookshelf, author peter stark discusses his book, "astoria." he recalls the partnership between john jacob astor and president jefferson and the exhibition that began in
establishing an international trading post on the pacific coast. inis at powell's books oregon. [laughter] [applause] peter: thank you for the introduction. and thank you powells and you , all, for being here. normally i have a more formal presentation. but tonight is a special night so i will do something a little bit different. and i'm going to tell stories a little bit more and, of course, i'm going to do some reading as well. but it's special because, one, this is powell's, we're in oregon, astoria is very nearby. the center of this story. and also we're here with c-span, booktv. and so we have a national audience as well as a oregon audience.