Former President Clinton has said that what troubled him most about the economic crisis in Ireland was the surge in suicide, especially among “people in their prime working years, who feel some how their whole lives have been robbed from them by this.”
The 42nd President of the United States was speaking yesterday, at the Irish America Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in New York, where he was honored.
He revealed to the crowd at the Irish America magazine Hall of Fame event in New York yesterday that a close Irish friend of his had taken his own life, due to the recession.
“A good friend of mine was one of the young, phenomenally prosperous Irish men who took his life and it made me think about this all over again,” he said.
Adressing the crowd Clinton delivered an inspirational message in which he said Ireland will be great and prosperous and wonderful again, simply by recovering what it is at the core.
“The thing we loved about Ireland had almost nothing to do with whether it was financially successful or not,” Clinton said.
“We should remember that what we loved about Ireland was how green and beautiful it is and how beautiful the poetry and the prose are and how wonderful the music and the dance is,” he added.
Speaking about Ireland’s recovery he said that a great challenge lays ahead which should be embraced by all, as we look to the future.
“Too much of the growth was in housing and nothing goes on forever at that rate,” Clinton said. “But it is not the end of the world; it is the beginning of another chapter in Irish history.”
“The impacted sense of shame from this economic crisis and the paralysis of it has put our beloved homeland in another fix,” he said.
“We should never assume again that any given level of prosperity is permanent,” adding that no economic arrangement is ever unyielding.
He called on people to reflect on what they cherish about Ireland as a method of re-evaluating our identity as we move forward.
“I’m convinced if everyone of us had 30 lucid minutes right before we passed away we would spend almost none of it thinking about how cool it was when we got rich,” he said.
The former Democratic president called on all of those gathered to pull together and help Ireland through the recovery.
“So it is for us not only to give them good advice and investment and support but to scrape away the barnacles which have clouded the vision of the place we love,” Clinton said.
During his fifteen minute speech at the New York Yacht Club, Clinton spoke about his pride in the endurance of peace in Northern Ireland and his continued involvement with the Irish American community.
He said the current crisis “brings with it both the opportunity and a profound responsibility to help the Irish respond to this moment of economic calamity, social and psychological chaos.”
Former President Clinton was enlisted as an Irish America magazine Hall of Fame honoree alongside the doctor and humanitarian, Dr Kevin Cahill; bestselling author, Mary Higgins Clark; philanthropist Chuck Fenney; Wall St titan, Denis Kelleher; peacemaker, William J. Flynn; the Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley; Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith; Nobel Scientist, Dr James Watson.
Dr John Lahey, the President of Quinnipiac University was named as the Irish American of the year.