Statement by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar on the death of Jean Kennedy Smith
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jean Kennedy Smith, a proud Irish-American and a true friend to Ireland. She used her office to deepen and strengthen the already strong bonds between our two countries.
“From 1993 to 1998, Jean served as US Ambassador to Ireland under President Bill Clinton’s administration. She proved an extraordinary diplomat during the crucial years leading up to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, building lasting relationships with all sides and becoming an instrumental figure in the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
“Her courageous and determined diplomacy helped to bring peace to our island, built bridges, opened doors to all communities, and to all those striving for peace when peace was not a certainty.
“In 1998 Jean Kennedy Smith was conferred with honorary Irish citizenship in recognition of her service to this island. In 2009, along with her brother Ted Kennedy, she was awarded the prestigious Tipperary Peace Prize for her contribution to the Northern Ireland Peace Process.
“Jean’s influence and work extended well beyond her career as a diplomat. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama for her work with children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
“I offer my sincerest condolences to Jean’s family and friends. I also salute her enduring legacy, to peace in Northern Ireland and to the many thousands of lives she has touched throughout her remarkable lifetime.”