Development & Alumni Relations Office 



‘BRIDGING THE ATLANTIC: IRELAND AND THE US’ SYMPOSIUM

Image courtesy of Georgetown Global Irish Studies

25 November 2020

Staff from Queen’s University were among those who took part in the ‘Bridging the Atlantic: Ireland and the US’ symposium held earlier this month (Tuesday 17 November).

The virtual event was hosted by the BMW Center for German and European Studies and Georgetown University's Global Irish Studies in conjunction with the Clinton Institute at University College Dublin, the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s, the Washington Ireland Program, and the Embassy of Ireland USA.

This was the second annual symposium on Ireland-US relations which discussed transatlantic relations, Ireland, the US and the EU. Academics, analysts, policymakers, and journalists engaged in a number of panel discussions on leadership, Irish-America, Brexit and the US Presidential Election.  

President Bill Clinton delivered an address on ‘Atlantic Relations in a New Era’ and shared his reflections on the legacies of John Lewis and John Hume, whom he described as “two remarkable leaders”.

Almost 25 years after his first visit to Northern Ireland, President Clinton said:

“I was proud to work closely with both of them…and honoured by many years of friendship with them both. These two heroes worked to heal wounds in their countries and their lives were dedicated to building bridges between people.

“Our world remains plagued by an ‘us versus them’ mentality, where our differences are far more important than our common humanity.

“Real progress is possible with persistence and a belief that our common humanity matters more, and we can and must genuinely share the future.”

Professor Richard English, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement; Dr Joanne Murphy, Academic Director at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute; and Professor Katy Hayward, Professor of Political Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, from Queen’s all participated in the event.

In his welcome remarks, Professor English highlighted the need for discourse and collaboration saying:

“The conference embodies much needed dialogue and cooperation – dialogue and cooperation between universities, between the universities and other valued partners, dialogue and cooperation between Ireland and the United States, very precious historically and ever more pressing currently.

“And here in Ireland, dialogue and cooperation across the border between north and south.”

Commenting on the current state of the UK/EU Brexit negotiations Professor Katy Hayward said:

“I tend to err on the side of optimism and I think we are likely to get a deal. We’ve known for some time what that deal might look like and, fundamentally, we know what the UK most particularly needs to compromise on. The big question is in terms of how it manages to sell that compromise.

If we’re thinking about the responsibility to maintain the peace process in Northern Ireland, it is worth recognising that the future UK/Europe relationship will have a very direct effect on the situation in Northern Ireland, in economic terms and in other ways as well.

Speaking afterwards about the event Professor English concluded: “This excellent conference brought together colleagues from Queen's University Belfast, Georgetown University, UCD and other leading Universities, and it reflected the ways in which Queen's is integrated into wider global networks. 

“There was superb discussion of major themes, and a strengthening of the University's reputation internationally.”

To watch the full event please click here. The full event programme PDF is available here

For general enquiries about this story, or to submit items of graduate news, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office, Queen's University Belfast.

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