Secretary of State John Kerry has said he would “love” to comment in detail on the controversy over the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Hillary Clinton’s emails but it would not be appropriate for someone in his position.
Kerry was speaking at an event in Ireland’s Glen of Aherlow, where he became the latest recipient of the prestigious Tipperary International Peace Award.
The Secretary of State was asked at a news conference in the Aherlow House Hotel if either he or the State Department been officially notified by the FBI of the new review of the Democratic presidential candidate’s emails, what the contents were and if he was willing to hand them over? Did he agree with Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the FBI’s behavior in the matter?
Responding, Kerry said: “No, I haven’t been notified of anything. No, I haven’t been requested of anything. No, I am not aware of the Department being requested and I have no further comment to make whatsoever on a subject that is within purview of the Department of Justice, the FBI. They will have to respond to any and all other questions regarding this.
“And by the way, obviously as an American citizen, not to mention as a former nominee of the party, there’s a lot I’d love to say about what has been going on, but I can’t, and I’m just going to remain out of this, which is the appropriate place for the Secretary of State to be, regarding this issue.”
Paying tribute to Kerry, Irish Foreign Minister, Charlie Flanagan said: “Today, the Secretary of State joins a long list of awardees, which includes Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, George Mitchell, Bill Clinton, Benazir Bhutto, Mary McAleese and, most recently last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“The Tipperary Peace Convention could not have awarded its prize to a more worthy and indeed more deserving figure than Secretary of State John Kerry. He has an outstanding record of public service going back three decades and more. His record is one of distinguished service at state, national and, in more recent times, international level."
Prior to their joint news conference, the two men met for about an hour on matters of common interest and Flanagan said afterwards: “I had the opportunity to discuss in particular the most recent developments in Northern Ireland and the Peace Process, and to express the appreciation of the Irish Government and indeed the Irish people to Secretary Kerry for his personal commitment to the peace process on the island of Ireland and the cause of peace and reconciliation.”
Kerry said: “We spoke about the importance of sustaining and advancing the Northern Ireland peace process. Over nearly two decades, the world has seen the remarkable success, the striking success, of the Good FridayAgreement.
"I was pleased to serve in the Senate with Chris Dodd and Joe Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee when we first grappled with the issues of, ‘Do we give a visa to Gerry Adams? Do we begin to move this process forward?’ And the answer is, we did. And the rest is history. We want it to be history, because that still can serve as a model for embracing reconciliation, for rebuilding trust and for resolving longstanding disputes.”
Flanagan expressed grave concern over remarks at the weekend by Northern Ireland First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster.
Foster told her party conference in Belfast that the minority Government in Dublin, motivated by concern for its own political survival, was sending its representatives around the world “to talk down our economy and to attempt to poach our investors”.
Flanagan phoned the DUP Minister for the Economy, Simon Hamilton, to express his concern at the speech and he told the news conference in Tipperary:
"I was very surprised at these remarks. I’m very concerned at these remarks. I am very concerned at the claim that representatives of the Irish Government were allegedly talking down the Northern Ireland economy, very concerned at allegations that representatives of the Irish State were in any way poaching business or investors.
"I spoke last evening to the Minister for the Economy, Simon Hamilton. I expressed my concern. He and I agreed that it’s important that we work together, which we will do.
"I believe it’s important that the unique relationship of the people on this island forms part of the negotiated framework in the matter of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. We need to work together, we have to work together, in order to ensure economic and social prosperity for all the people on this island and that is the priority for my government and my government colleagues.”
Kerry was accompanied by the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland, Gary Hart and Flanagan paid special tribute to the former Colorado senator’s skill and dedication, adding that “the appointment of Senator Hart is a further demonstration of the ongoing commitment on the part of the United States to our peace process”.
A number of Irish peace groups have protested over the presentation of the Tipperary International Peace Award to Kerry. They include the Galway Alliance Against War, the Irish Anti-War Movement, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Shannonwatch and Veterans for Peace.
Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance said: “The government that John Kerry represents is guilty of state terrorism." He added: “This is not the type of government that the Tipperary Peace Convention should be bestowing a peace prize upon.”