Former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney has revealed that his boss Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sometimes clashed with the Irish government on issues she wanted them to agree with her on but they did not.
Speaking to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Rooney stated "Secretary Clinton would tell me, 'I want you to go to the Irish government and tell them this is how we feel. We hope they will be on our side.' There were many times that they did not agree. Sometimes, they wouldn't agree, and it would end, and then you had to go back."
Rooney stated that it often was like a “gentle twisting of arms at an NFL owners meeting.”
"There are a lot of similarities in dealing with people."
He also revealed he had to cajole President Obama to go into Ollie Hayes pub in Moneygall during the president’s dramatic visit there in May 2011. It was raining heavily during the visit and Rooney remembers that he said, 'Mr. President, let's go in this pub.' He said, 'No, I have to talk to all these people. These are my people.' There were 100,000 people up and down the streets. You couldn't believe how big it was."
Rooney said he faced numerous doubters he could do the job because of his football background and lack of diplomatic experience. “"People were concerned," Rooney recalled. "How is this going to work? But it really turned out to be excellent."
He said he was especially proud of visiting all 32 counties and also the town hall meetings he held. Te traces his roots to near Newry County Down.
"The first one we had was at Newry and Dundalk.(cross border towns that are very close together) They are two pretty good cities that are doing things. That really worked out well. They were happy to see me. They were in on discussions. It was a give and take with them. In fact, the mayor of Dundalk, when he was finished said, 'Ambassador, can you come back here every week?'"
Rooney says he was determined to help in whatever way with the peace process.
“The peace over there now, that was another goal [of mine] that I would say was to make things better. It is much better. The one thing that the people of Ireland, both sides, the whole island, realize that they don't want these troubles anymore. They express themselves. It's not like it was in the past where they would shoot people for talking. It's really been good. There is still economic problems, but it has turned in the right direction. The problem is jobs, like here."
Rooney missed seeing his beloved Steelers lay and recounted a funny incident, In 2010 he cam eback to new York for a Giants/Steelers game an dafterwards tried to enter the press box to talk to the journalists. A security guard noticed he had no credentials"They said, who are you?" Rooney recalled.
The guard asked him to leave, and Rooney did
And the Ireland experience?
"I am really pleased. I know that I was away from the team and Pittsburgh. My time got busier. The first year I think I was at eight or nine games. I really didn't count. As time went on, [it became more difficult]. For instance two years ago, [Sept. 11, 2011], we were playing Baltimore. I couldn't get back. People said you had to get back. In fact, they even started talking about getting a private jet. I said I don't want to do that. So I just said I just can't make it.
"I had to make a speech. It was good. We had the Irish government there. We had a lot of ambassadors from other countries. Patricia read a poem called 'The Names' by a poet from the U.S., Billy Collins. She really did a fine job. What I am saying to you is I think we accomplished what we went there for, everybody did. They all said I did a great job.
"I was called upon to do a lot of things. We had receptions at the residence like you wouldn't believe. We always kept it going and kept things going. Patricia being involved in education, she got involved in a lot of educational things. And I went on and ran the mission. It was a big thing."