Hillary Clinton will address the Northern Ireland assembly today

Senator Hillary Clinton sipped a half pint of beer in McDaid's Pub, went walking on Dublin's Grafton Street, stopped at Bewleys restaurant for a cappuccino and generally made herself at home in Ireland on Sunday.

It was the first leg of her dedicated visit to Ireland, North and South, the first ever by a Secretary of State.

Everywhere she went in public, Clinton, a hugely popular figure in Ireland, was greeted with applause and a hearty Irish welcome. She met with Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen and President Mary McAleese and discussed the situation of Irish undocumented in the U.S. as well as Northern Ireland and global economic issues.

Speaking on the Irish undocumented, Clinton said: “I can attest the lobbying is very effective. It is well organized.

“This is an issue we have to deal with in the overall need for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Clinton also remarked that there was “no greater joy than to come back to Ireland, to be in Dublin today after meeting with Irish government leaders in Farmleigh the government's official residence in the Phoenix Park .

“I said to Brian (Cowen, Irish leader), ‘I wish we could take a day off, wander around this beautiful park and enjoy some of the hospitality that I have experienced before.”

Today comes the tough part as she addresses the Northern Ireland assembly and makes clear that America is fully behind the latest efforts to devolve policing and justice matters to the assembly.

Sinn Fein and the DUP, who share power in the North, have been at loggerheads over the issue sparking a new crisis in the peace process.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, the Deputy First Minister, and Peter Robinson of the DUP, the First Minister.

Out of those talks came an agreement that Britain would foot the bill for the transition of powers, expected to cost in the $750 million range.

However, it is still unclear whether the DUP will sign up to the deal as Peter Robinson is under pressure from hardliners in his own party to hold out against it.

Clinton, however, has made clear America's commitment to a new policing deal and to economic investment in Northern Ireland.

The Secretary of State reiterated America's strong links with Ireland on both sides of the border. Clinton made specific reference to the recent appointment of Irishman Declan Kelly as her economic envoy.

“The appointment of a special economic envoy is a very tangible signal that we want to invest in the peace dividend that will come with the final devolution of power and authority and the full acceptance of responsibility by the people of Northern Ireland themselves,” she
said.

“The step of devolution for policing and justice is an absolutely essential milestone.”