John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism delivered what could have been a campaign speech for Irish Americans from the Obama campaign in Dublin yesterday.
Brennan, widely credited with setting up the hit on Osama Bin Laden and whose father is from Roscommon, was speaking to the Institute of Institutional and European Affairs.
He made no bones about his own Irish heritage and the connections that President Obama made when he went to Ireland last year.
Brennan stated “It is wonderful to be in Ireland, on a very personal level.
I am one of the tens of millions of Americans who proudly trace our heritage to this island and its people. My 92-year-old father, Owen, was born and raised in County Roscommon—in Kilteevan and Lecarrow. He worked as a blacksmith on the McCalmont estate in Kilkenny now known as the Mount Juliet Golf Club. And although he left for America and settled in New Jersey, where I was raised, we still have family in County Roscommon, and I look forward to visiting them again tomorrow.
“Of course, I am just one of the many Irish Americans who are privileged to serve President Obama. For instance, his national security team includes Vice President Biden; the President’s National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon; the Principal Deputy National Security Advisor, Denis McDonough; as well as our senior director for human rights—raised in Dublin and schooled by the nuns of Mount Anville—Samantha Power. All proud Irish Americans. As Vice President Biden has joked, “the President is surrounded by us.”
“Like so many Americans, we were moved by President Obama’s visit here last year and the incredible welcome and hospitality that he and the First Lady received. His meeting with President McAleese and her husband, and the exuberant crowd at College Green, reflected the friendship and affection—the shared history, the common hopes—that bind our countries like no other. His meeting with Taoiseach Kenny at Farmleigh House, and the hospitality of Mrs. Kenny, was a chance to reaffirm our cooperation on many fronts. And the President’s visit to his ancestral home of Moneygall was a chance, as he said, to look for “the Moneygall Obamas.”
“That visit, like all the President’s meetings with Taoiseach Kenny, underscored the depth of cooperation between our countries, especially when it comes to the focus of my work—our shared security. In this work we are profoundly grateful for our partnership with Ireland and the leadership that this nation displays around the world.
“We see Ireland’s leadership on this island, in its support for the Agreement that has inspired other nations to take their own risks for peace. We see Ireland’s leadership across Europe, when Irish men and women in uniform help keep the peace in the Balkans. And we look forward to working closely with our Irish friends as Ireland assumes the EU presidency next year.
“We see Ireland’s leadership the world over, including in the international mission in Afghanistan. Irish support and hospitality have greeted countless American troops as they have passed through Shannon in support of operations in Afghanistan. Irish service members—ordnance disposal experts—are helping to train our Afghan partners. Irish financial support is helping to sustain Afghan security forces and police, improve governance and advance the rights and opportunities of Afghan women and girls.
“We see Ireland’s leadership across the Middle East and North Africa—in the peacekeepers in the Sinai, Golan Heights and Lebanon, some of whom have given their lives; in the unarmed observers who went to Syria in the hopes of helping to end the violence against the Syrian people; and in the humanitarian support that Ireland has provided during this Arab Spring, especially to the people of Tunisia, Libya and Syria.
We see Ireland’s leadership elsewhere in the world—whether peacekeeping missions from the western Sahara to the Congo; building the capacity of Somali security forces; supporting anti-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa; or being recognized as a global leader in the fight for food security and nutrition.
“As President Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor, I would add that we are especially grateful for Ireland’s partnership in meeting the terrorist threat to our nations. Over the past four years we have strengthened aviation screening and security for flights bound for the United States—thanks to partners like Ireland, which hosts our Customs and Border Protection personnel at the airports in Dublin and Shannon....”