Nearly two years ago when I asked Declan to serve, I challenged him to use his considerable talents and entrepreneurial drive to help Northern Ireland grow and sustain the benefits of peace. Within hours of his appointment, Declan was en route to Belfast. He found eager and able partners not only there, but throughout the region. This collective effort has opened up new and exciting opportunities for the people of Northern Ireland to share a more prosperous future.
During his time as Envoy, Declan has helped our friends in the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, Invest NI, and the business community make Northern Ireland one of the best per capita attractors of investment in the world. In the face of recession and severe fiscal austerity, Northern Ireland's innovators and entrepreneurs have carved out a global reputation for excellence and industry. Some of the world's leading companies have established or expanded their presences in Northern Ireland during this time, bringing new jobs, skills, and technologies with them. Declan's vision of the U.S.-Northern Ireland Mentorship Program – which places young graduates from Northern Ireland in American companies for one year internships – will leave a lasting legacy of expanded opportunity and experience for the region's budding business leaders and entrepreneurs.
As I said last October at the U.S. - Northern Ireland Economic Conference, a stronger economy in Northern Ireland will help secure a lasting peace; a bedrock foreign policy priority for the United States. The United States will continue to work with Northern Ireland to expand the opportunities Declan has fought so hard for, and I know he will remain a passionate advocate for the people of Northern Ireland. It is with appreciation and admiration for a job well-done that I accept the resignation today of U.S. Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland Declan Kelly. I thank him and wish him and his family the very best in the future.