Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, has urged US firms to invest in Northern Ireland, saying that the jobs will help to ensure peace there.

Clinton was speaking at the US-Northern Ireland Economic Conference in Washington, where she said that, “a stronger economy in Northern Ireland will help secure a lasting peace and peace in Northern Ireland is a bedrock foreign policy priority for the United States."

Both Clinton and her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, have visited Northern Ireland in the last two months and they have between them met with a variety of politicians and business people in the North.

With major budget cuts in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, emigration has once more become an issue for young Irish people. Meanwhile, dissident Republicans have recently capitalized on the disenfranchisement many young people feel by increasing sectarian and paramilitary attacks.

Clinton told the delegates at the conference that "US companies have recently created more than 1,000 jobs in Northern Ireland, including 100 jobs created by GE Energy, and more than 300 in the Belfast office of New York Stock Exchange."

She also said that "Dow Chemical will open a supply chain consulting service in Belfast and the Terex Corporation will open a European business services center as well."
As for the peace process, in which her husband was instrumental, Clinton pledged a "renewal of commitment (to the peace process) because in the long-run it's these kinds of jobs and these kinds of opportunities that are more lasting and more predictable."
Jobs, she said, are key as "dissidents continue to exploit every chance they get to influence in those hard-to-reach communities where peace is most fragile."