By Jim Smith
BOSTON — Former President Bill Clinton was honored last Tuesday by the Irish Immigration Center in Boston for his work in helping to advance peace in Northern Ireland.
“I love Ireland,” Clinton told about 1,200 admirers who paid $100 for the luncheon at the Copley Marriott ballroom. “I always wanted to do something about the Troubles since I was a student at Oxford when they broke out.”
Among those who attended the event were Sen. Bob Kerry and Bill Bulger, president of the University of Massachusetts and former leader of the state senate.
After accepting the center’s annual Solas award, Clinton gave credit to others but acknowledged that he was often up into the early-morning hours helping to resolve recurring crises in the peace process.
“My wife has berated me since we were going together for my aversion to sleep, and she said the Irish finally gave me a good reason to stay up all night,” he said.
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Clinton expressed optimism about the future in Northern Ireland.
“It looks like this peace process is going to make it,” he said. “In a troubled world, to be able to look to Ireland, the scene of so much of the world’s troubles for hundreds of years, for a model of how we ought to deal with our differences and work together is a source of joy to me and immense pride.”
Clinton ended his address by lamenting that many of those killed in Northern Ireland and in other conflicts around the world were so young.
“The young pay for the failure of their parents,” he said. “We indulge our inability to get over our hatreds and our narrow vision by spilling their blood. . . . Now that we live in a world completely without walls, we have no choice but to make it a home for all our children.”
Prior to his remarks, Clinton accepted the Solas Award from the center, which is named for the Gaelic word for “Light.” Previous recipients of the award include Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late Rep. Joseph Moakley.