For decades, the United States has supported the efforts of the people and leaders of Northern Ireland to realize a prosperous, lasting peace.
Promoting Peace and Prosperity
The United States has always stood with the people of Northern Ireland and will continue to do so as they continue to build a strong society, vibrant economy, and enduring peace. We remain fully committed to promoting a lasting peace, advancing prosperity for all, and supporting Northern Ireland’s institutions. The United States is proud of all that Northern Ireland has achieved, including the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and 2007 St. Andrews Agreement. We encourage the political parties of Northern Ireland to renew their efforts on the all-party talks to tackle sensitive issues such as parades, flags/symbols, and matters dealing with the past.
Collaborating on Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation
From 1986 to 2014, the United States has provided over $500 million in assistance through the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) to promote economic and social development in areas of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland most affected by the conflict. This assistance has supported a wide variety of youth, economic, and community development programs. One hundred twenty-seven community organizations have completed the IFI-funded Community Leadership Program for training community groups and organizations. Women of Northern Ireland have a particularly important role to play in promoting peace and developing local economies, and IFI funding also works to empower them. This year the IFI’s Peace Impact Program provided young women in the greater Londonderry/Derry area of Northern Ireland training in employable skills and conflict resolution.
The U.S. Consulate in Belfast also implements an active outreach and engagement program. Each year, a range of U.S. speakers disseminates best practices and exchanges ideas about civic engagement, urban regeneration, community cohesion, and marginalizing extremism. A key component of the Consulate’s outreach, the Danesfort Dialogues, facilitates a series of constructive formal discussions among key civil society members on important local issues. Through a series of small grants, the Consulate assists local organizations deliver positive change to their communities through sports diplomacy, youth entrepreneurship, and democratic engagement.
Partnering for Economic Growth and Innovation
The United States is an important economic partner for Northern Ireland. To promote economic opportunity, we support U.S. investment, and we have encouraged innovators and entrepreneurs as they translate their ideas into businesses. Over the last 15 years, U.S. individuals and companies have invested over $2 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Northern Ireland. In the past six years alone, more than 50 U.S. investments worth more than $1 billion have created thousands of new jobs in Northern Ireland. At the October 2013 Northern Ireland investment conference following the G-8 Summit in Lough Erne, 44 U.S. companies’ representatives travelled to Belfast to build the investment linkages needed to create jobs for Americans and the people of Northern Ireland.
Through the U.S.-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, we also engage in scientific research together, which drives economic development. The partnership encourages collaboration among scientists from the United States, Ireland, and Northern Ireland in five priority areas: health, sensor technology, nanotechnology, telecommunications, and energy and sustainability. This project accelerates commercialization of innovations by fostering private sector coordination with the research teams.
The United States continues to increase investment linkages and partnerships that promote educational, professional, and entrepreneurial opportunities for Northern Ireland’s young people. The State Department’s Special Representative for Global Partnerships Andrew O’Brien led a delegation of U.S. investors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, members of the Irish diaspora, and representatives from academia and civil society to Limerick, Ireland and Belfast, Northern Ireland January 28-31. The Belfast visit developed cross-sectoral partnership opportunities to boost science, technology, environment, and mathematics education, promote entrepreneurship, and promote economic growth.
Encouraging Northern Ireland’s Young Leaders
Hundreds of students and scholars from the United States and Northern Ireland have participated in the Fulbright Program. U.S. scholars have benefitted from the Fulbright-Northern Ireland Governance and Public Policy Award and the Northern Ireland Assembly Award, and senior public sector employees from Northern Ireland have benefitted from the Fulbright Northern Ireland Public Sector Award. In addition, hundreds of Northern Ireland civil society leaders, including legislators, artists, and activists, have participated in U.S. government-funded professional exchange programs. Thanks to the goodwill of 140 U.S. academic institutions, which waived $40 million in tuition costs over the past 20 years, 1,800 Northern Ireland students have benefited from an academic year abroad in the United States.
This year, the U.S. Department of State awarded a $665,000 grant to the Irish Institute at Boston College for a professional exchange on the rule of law for some 20 governance professionals from Northern Ireland and Ireland and approximately eight U.S. participants. Through individually tailored, four-week fellowships in advocacy organizations, legal think tanks, law firms, and court offices in the Boston area, followed by a week in Washington, D.C., fellows will have direct exposure to U.S. government policy-making and civil society advocacy. Working with counterparts, the eight U.S. fellows will then spend two weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland to implement reciprocal projects. The participants from Ireland and Northern Ireland will return to Washington, D.C., in June and again in November for a networking event for 200 exchange participants from more than 40 countries.
The Department of State’s “Collaboratory” brought educational technology specialists from Northern Ireland and Ireland on an exchange to the United States in January and will connect them virtually with disadvantaged youth throughout Ireland and peers from Africa. They will collaborate on ideas to develop their ideal educational systems and help create their own futures, while extending their horizons with engagement with young people in Africa.