Hillary Clinton celebrates Dan Rooney’s service to the US and Ireland at White House event
Former ambassador to Ireland reflects on his “dream job” in Dublin’s Phoenix Park
In recognition of Dan Rooney’s three years of service as Ambassador for the United States in Ireland, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the Irish American with the Chief of Mission flag, and the flag of the United States honoring his successful tenure in Ireland.
This December Rooney announced his retirement from his Dublin post having been appointed by President Obama in March 2009. Now aged 80, Rooney has officially stepped down from his Phoenix Park office in advance of changes to the United States diplomatic corps with the inauguration of President Obama for a second term.
Clinton spoke briefly at the White House Flag Ceremony before presenting Rooney with the flags. Clinton returned to work on Monday after a month’s absence due to a blood clot found near her brain. She spoke to the crowd about her staff’s fitting returning gift - an American football helmet and shirt.
She said, “They told me it was a welcome-back gift, but I suspect they also were thinking about the fact that you would be here in a few days, and we wanted to make you feel right at home.”
Clinton referred to Rooney as a “dream ambassador,” commenting on “the depth of his lifelong experience on behalf of Irish-American relations.”
She continued, saying he spent decades building ties between the United States and Ireland through the American Ireland Fund, which he co-founded. It’s also partly because of his willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to get the job done.
“Dan Rooney was the first U.S. Ambassador to visit all 32 counties in Ireland and its outer islands, including remote places that can only be reached at certain times of year and then only by ferry or puddle-jumper. Often, it was Dan himself at the controls of the plane.”
Accepting the flags Rooney recalled that Clinton had asked him to “strengthen the friendship and ties between Ireland and the United States” and “to keep special watch on the peace process.”
He said, “I believe this is what we did…I worked to strengthen the bonds between the American people and the people of Ireland. It took me to every county in Ireland, 32, as you mentioned. And I learned so much from everyone I met. I was also constantly reminded of the deep love and affection the Irish people have for you and your husband. The people of Ireland are aware of your commitment and sacrifices on behalf of peace and reconciliation.”
The former ambassador commented on the “remarkable times” in Ireland he lived through during his tenure.
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