NEW YORK — Hillary Rodham Clinton made no mention of her forthcoming presidential campaign, or her recent e-mail controversy, as she accepted an award here Monday for her work helping to ease the decades-long sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
Wearing green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, Clinton said she accepted the Irish America magazine lifetime achievement award “on behalf of all the remarkable women that I met and admired in Northern Ireland” as first lady.
Magazine editor Patricia Harty said Clinton was honored “for her role in helping to broker the Good Friday agreement” during the administration of her husband, Bill Clinton.
The event underscored Hillary Clinton’s long history with Northern Ireland, which figured prominently in her time as first lady in the 1990s and was part of her last overseas visit as secretary of state. She faced attacks during the 2008 campaign after saying she “helped bring peace to Northern Ireland,” a claim she avoided making Monday.
Amid the Guinness toasts at lunchtime and jokes about the number of potential U.S. ambassadors to Ireland in the crowd, Clinton took a serious tone as she recalled a trip to Belfast in 1995, when she stood with her husband to light Christmas lights. The episode was part of a process that would eventually lead to a peace accord in 1998.
“They simply would not take no for answer,” Clinton said of women who pushed male leaders to make and keep the Good Friday accord that Bill Clinton counts as a signature achievement of his presidency.
Hillary Clinton returned often to Northern Ireland, including her final overseas trip as secretary of state, in December 2012. She had planned further trips but canceled them after falling and hitting her head after returning from Dublin and Belfast.
Clinton played no direct role in fostering the 1998 peace deal but is credited with helping solidify support for the reconciliation effort. Her work bringing together women from both sides of the conflict served as a foundation for Clinton’s later work as secretary of state to include women in political and peace discussions.
Clinton did not go into the particulars of her involvement Monday, while praising the roles played by others.
Bill Clinton bucked domestic political opposition to extend an invitation, and a U.S. visa, to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, Hillary Clinton said. Adams sat across from Clinton at the head table Monday in a glittering ballroom along Central Park West.
Bill Clinton received the same award in 2011. The publisher of Irish America, Niall O’Dowd, is a longtime Democratic donor and served on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 finance committee.
Clinton is expected to launch her second run for the White House next month. Her appearance Monday marked her first public remarks since a tense news conference last week in which she sought to put to rest questions about her use of a private e-mail system while serving as secretary of state.
Later Monday, Clinton took to Twitter to criticize the GOP-controlled Congress, including for not yet confirming Loretta Lynch to head the Justice Department.
“Congressional trifecta against women today: 1) Blocking great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any AG in 30 years,” Clinton wrote. “. . . 2) Playing politics with trafficking victims . . . 3) Threatening women’s health & rights.”