On April 3rd, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) will participate in the anniversary event, Reflections on The Good Friday Agreement: 25 Years of Peace & Progress. On this occasion, the NCAFP will present its William J. Flynn Initiative for Peace Award to President William J. Clinton to recognize his extraordinary leadership brokering peace in Northern Ireland with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. President Clinton’s courageous commitment to peace and justice for the people of Northern Ireland led to an agreement that continues to stand as a triumph of diplomacy. The NCAFP is honored to recognize the President and the transformative peace that he brought to Northern Ireland with this award.
Ambassador (ret.) Susan M. Elliott, President & CEO of the NCAFP, notes: “The NCAFP is committed to helping people of countries in conflict to find peaceful resolutions. We are honored to recognize President Clinton for the important role he played in helping resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland and other conflicts around the world.”
The William J. Flynn Initiative for Peace Award was established in 1997 in honor of William J. Flynn, NCAFP Chairman Emeritus, for his decisive leadership and daring diplomacy in spurring two cease-fires and promoting the peace process in Northern Ireland. This award is presented to an individual who has worked tirelessly to resolve a conflict that has affected the national interests of the United States. Previous recipients Senator George J. Mitchell, The Right Honorable Dr. Marjorie Mowlam, Gerry Adams, and Mr. Shaun Kelly.
The NCAFP has played a role in Northern Ireland since 1994, when it succeeded in convincing President Bill Clinton to issue a 48-hour visa to Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Féin. Adam’s first appearance in the United States led to a ceasefire and enabled him to develop ties with key U.S. leaders, giving him and his party the assurance necessary to enter into peace negotiations and sign the Belfast Agreement in 1998.
This courageous act was envisioned by William J. Flynn, former Chairman of Mutual of America. As noted by Gerry Adams: “The invitation to me from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy duly arrived. It created a major political storm…. Two days before the conference, President Clinton authorized a 48 hour visa that restricted me to the New York area. The backlash from the British government and system was hysterical. The Daily Telegraph summed it up by describing it as ‘the worst rift since Suez’….[There] can be no doubt that the granting of the visa was a major shift in U.S. foreign policy and it marked a defining moment in the development of the Irish peace process."
The NCAFP remains active in Northern Ireland, as it regularly hosts Track II discussions with political leaders on today’s current political and economic challenges.