Bill Clinton warned that Brexit is due to people re-assessing “whether what we have in common is more important than our differences”.
Clinton said “cooperation is better than conflict or isolation in any environment into which you must be in touch with others,” noting that some Brexit voters did not know what they were voting for.
“I’m sorry we can’t stay together, we had a disagreement, oh my god I didn’t know I was going to lose that customs thing with all these economic benefits. Why didn’t anybody tell me that?” said Clinton, pretending to be a British voter.
The former president of the United States was awarded an honorary doctorate today by DCU President Brian MacCraith for his crucial role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.
“It was really quite something, there’s never been any peace agreement exactly like it before,” said Clinton on the Good Friday Agreement. “It broke like a thunder cloud across the world and other people were fighting in other places and they had this talk to say ‘well really do I want to put our children’s generation through this? Or if they can pull this off after all those decades maybe we could too.”
Clinton said universities should be a place for open discussion about if people should live in individual tribes, or as communities with shared values and respect for one another, especially in today’s political climate.
Dr. Martin Naughton and Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy were also honoured at the Honorary Conferring Ceremony in the Helix which held over a thousand people.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the success of the Northern Ireland peace process is in very many ways due to the fact that President Clinton took the view that it was a conflict that could be resolved by his personal input and by the power and influence of the United States of America,” said Gary Murphy, from the School of Law and Government in the president’s introductory citation.
“There can be little doubt that the conflict in Northern Ireland was ultimately resolved because that great beacon of liberty, the United States of America, decided that it could use its influence to make a vital difference. That fateful decision was taken in the Oval Office by President Bill Clinton.
“There was no electoral gain for him taking it. If anything his initial forays into the Northern Ireland peace process were greeted with scepticism by both republicans and unionists in Northern Ireland and by downright distrust and suspicion in the corridors of power in London. But Bill Clinton persevered, and thanks to that perseverance we have peace in Ireland today.”
Also celebrated at the ceremony was Dr. Martin Naughton, KBE, founder of Glen Electric and one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. From humble roots in Newry, Co. Down he became the global leader in electric heating, and credits his success to his family ethos of honesty, morality, decency and integrity.
Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy was awarded the honorary doctorate for her longstanding work with the homeless and marginalised. She is the founder of Focus Ireland, which is now the largest voluntary organisation in Ireland, and has written many books on mindfulness and the importance of spirituality.
“As president I am often asked why DCU awards honorary doctorates, but Ireland has no national honours system, so it’s important that we recognise and honour outstanding achievements and role model individuals,” said MacCraith.
Fionnuala Walsh & Kyle Ewald