Kennedy Smith, Jean
As Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith played a leading role in the peace process.
Convinced that a U.S. visa for Gerry Adams was a key component in the peace framework, she risked her diplomatic reputation by clearing the way for the U.S. visit. The Kennedy Smith move was a bombshell forcing a major debate within the upper echelons of the State Department on the Irish issue. The ambassador's brother Senator Edward Kennedy and the Irish-American lobby began a concerted effort to win the visa, which they did, and on February, 1, 1994, Adams was allowed in the U.S.
Kennedy Smith had seen an opportunity for peace and she grabbed it. It was the culmination of a long-time desire to help bring peace to Northern Ireland. In 1974, she had stayed with John and Pat Hume in Derry, and upon witnessing the depressing sight of streets full of bombed-out buildings as the violence reached its zenith, she vowed to help if the opportunity presented itself.
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