George J. Mitchell Oral History Project
 

Interviewer

Brien Williams

Date

11-30-2009

ID Number

GMOH 175

Document Type

Interview

Subject Headings

Clinton, William J., Majority Leader, Negotiating skills, Northern Ireland, Press relations, U.S. Senate culture, U.S. Senate retirement

Abstract

Biographical Note
Martha Pope was born in Newcastle, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Connecticut. She attended the University of Connecticut, majoring in sociology with minors in psychology and statistics and in art. She earned a master’s degree in art education at Southern Connecticut University. She taught art for five years in elementary and junior high school, and then she moved to Washington, D.C. and started work on Capitol Hill. She worked for Senator John Culver, and when Culver lost his bid for reelection, Senator Mitchell kept her on as Environment and Public Works Committee staff focusing on fish and wildlife issues. She became his administrative assistant, and when he became majority leader she was chief of staff to the majority leader. In 1990 she was nominated to be sergeant-at-arms of the Senate, and in 1994 she became secretary of the Senate; she retired from that office in January 1995. She joined the State Department to work with Senator Mitchell on Northern Ireland issues, which eventually led to the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998.

David Roman Pozorski was born on June 26, 1947, to Betty Graham and Roman Leonard Pozorski. He attended Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois, and took his bachelor’s degree from Harvard in 1969, majoring in history. In 1973, he began his career as a Foreign Service officer; he was deputy director of the German desk when he accepted the assignment to serve as Department of State liaison to Senator George Mitchell, from 1996-1998, during the peace process negotiations in Northern Ireland. Since 2002, he has served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Department of State.

Summary
Interview includes discussion of: the position of sergeant-at-arms for the U.S. Senate, and various other Senate positions held by Pope; Mitchell’s retirement from the Senate; Pope’s transitioning from secretary of the Senate to working with Mitchell on Northern Ireland, Pozorski’s assignment to those negotiations at the State Department, and the administrative organization of Mitchell’s Northern Ireland mission; relocating Northern Ireland commission activities to Belfast; President Clinton’s involvement in the peace process; separation of the commission from the State Department; the decommissioning process; events and protracted talks leading up to the Good Friday Agreement; Mitchell’s negotiating abilities; Canary Wharf and Sinn Fein’s participation in the talks; the effect of Tony Blair’s election on effecting the Good Friday Agreement; results of the Agreement; living conditions in Northern Ireland for Mitchell’s staff; comparisons between Mitchell’s negotiating skills in Northern Ireland and as Senate majority leader; animosity between loyalists and unionists; assessment of David Ervine; media coverage; Pope’s “Gerry Kelly” incident; comparisons between negotiating peace in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East.

Restrictions

This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.

TEXT

Brien Williams: This is an oral history interview with Martha Pope and David Pozorski for the George J. Mitchell Oral History Project at Bowdoin College. We are conducting this interview in the law offices of DLA Piper in Washington, D.C. Today is Monday, November 30, 2009, and I am Brien Williams. Martha, I wanted to start by picking up from the earlier interview you did with Diane Dewhirst, and just talk about the transition from the Senator’s office to the sergeant-at-arms, how did that go and did you advocate for that, or did he come to you and ask you to do it, how did it happen?

Martha Pope: Yes, Senator Mitchell came to me and asked me to do it. And on the first occasion that he asked me I declined, respectfully, because I enjoyed being chief of staff to the majority leader and I liked the substance, legislative issues that were involved, the politics of the issues, and I was reluctant to give that up. And I think subsequently he went to several other people, and for a variety of reasons they declined as well, and so he came back to me and asked again, and at that time I felt I couldn’t refuse so I agreed to do it, reluctantly.

BW: He must have regarded that position as an important one.

MP: At the time that I took the position, or was offered the position, the man that held the job at the time was a man named Henry Giugni, who was there through Senator Inouye. And the reason he was there was that Senator Inouye agreed not to run against Senator Byrd for leader – this is my understanding, I suppose others could confirm it or deny it – and in reward, Senator Inouye got to select the Senate sergeant-at-arms, and that was a man from Hawaii who had been a former policeman, I think, in Honolulu, I’m not sure. And he was under Grand Jury investigation for – this I may get wrong – but I think he had been entertained by a corporation, inappropriately; it was something of that nature.

In any event, first of all it was Senator Mitchell’s prerogative to have his own person in that job. It was his prerogative as the majority leader to nominate people for the two officers positions, sergeant-at-arms and door keeper, and the other is secretary of the Senate, and so he agreed with Senator Inouye that Henry could stay for, I think, two years. Yes, it was two years, and then Senator Mitchell would choose his own person. And so that’s how I came to be asked to take the job, but I’d like to think that what part of Senator Mitchell’s thinking was that he had to have somebody in there that he could trust to run a clean operation, so that he wouldn’t have to really do the day-to-day operation.

BW: And just for the record then, who succeeded you in his office?

MP: A man named John Hilley.

BW: Then describe the circumstances when you moved over to the secretary of the Senate, how did that happen?

MP: Well, I hadn’t wanted to be Senate sergeant-at-arms so part of this discussion when I agreed to go was that when the secretary’s job became available that I would then move to that position. They’re very different positions, and the sergeant-at-arms operation at the time I think had a $150 million budget and employs over a thousand, and depending on whether you count the police, and when you’re managing police and you’re in charge of security it’s a much, much more difficult operation in my view than the secretary’s position, which is the legislative functions of the Senate.

Essentially, the sergeant-at-arms does non-legislative functions, and the secretary does legislative functions, that’s very loose, it’s not entirely correct, but the secretary has maybe a $20 million budget and I don’t remember, employs in the hundreds. It’s a cushier job, and so I was promised that I wouldn’t have to do the very difficult, and I thought at the time, dry work of the sergeant-at-arms for long, but it turned out the secretary, who was also a Byrd person, chose not to leave. In fact at one point he had chosen to leave, had announced he was leaving, and then decided not to leave. And so I was there [as] sergeant-at-arms for three-and-a-half years.

BW: And you were the first female sergeant-at-arms.

MP: The only, yes; they’ve never tried it again.

BW: Well, I was surprised when you said that the person that you succeeded had been a police officer, in Hawaii did you say?

MP: Yes.

BW: So, I mean police background does fit into the position a little bit, doesn’t it?

MP: Oh, it does, it does, but not really. You’re not really, as sergeant-at-arms, you’re not supposed to be running the day-to-day operations of the police. There’s a police chief for that. You are a member of a police board, along with the House sergeant-at-arms, and the architect of the Capitol, and you’re supposed to be setting broad policy. And I think a civilian is probably helpful in setting that policy, as long as they’re consulting closely with the police, it brings an important perspective to the job, and I think it can avoid mischief.

BW: So which position were you in when Senator Mitchell announced his retirement?

MP: I was secretary of the Senate. I did move over to be secretary in, oh, I think spring of ‘94.

BW: Well that was right before.

MP: And then he left, he announced in the fall of ‘94 I guess, so I think I was secretary for eight months, less than a year.

BW: I’ve asked lots of people what it was like to hear him say he was retiring and whatnot, and I’d like your impressions on that. How did you come to learn that that was happening?

MP: Oh, he called the staff together, the senior staff, and announced it. And I supposed I was shocked, though I can’t remember being shocked, but I suppose I was surprised.

BW: And that’s the first you heard of it, at that public staff meeting.

MP: Yes, I think so. I’m not sure about that. At some point we were asked our advice on how to handle the situation, and I only remember the meeting of several of us together, Diane [Dewhirst] and I – but I’m not sure, honestly, I’m not sure, I don’t remember.

BW: But that probably preceded the meeting where he called everyone together in the Capitol Building and announced his -

MP: Well, he didn’t call everybody. What do you mean by everybody?

BW: Well, I’ve talked to so many people that were staff that were in that meeting, I got the impression there were fifty or sixty people, when he announced to the staff that he was -

MP: Oh well, then yes, there was a much smaller meeting with several people, where we sat down. The meeting I was thinking of was that meeting where several of us sat down with him, and the purpose of it, I think, was to let us know and to discuss how to announce it. And I don’t remember the larger meeting, so I probably was there but I don’t remember that.

BW: And do you remember anything in particular about the closed meeting you had beforehand, I mean were there some issues that you had to talk through with him? It must have been a moving occasion, really, because he was in the prime of his career at the time.

MP: Nothing’s coming to me, quite honestly. It was, for me, looking back on it, it was a fairly utilitarian meeting, we were discussing issues of dealing with the press and press releases and announcements, and I don’t remember the emotion of it, though. It would only be logical that there would be some, but I don’t remember.

BW: You don’t remember anyone trying to talk him out of the decision.

MP: No, no, no.

BW: So now, before we get to David, I’m sorry, there’s one more transition, and that was out of the secretary of the Senate’s position and into the Irish adventure, so how did that happen?

MP: Well, he called me, well I think he called me, he offered me the position of going with him to the State Department to work with him on the Northern Ireland situation. And my immediate reaction to him was – and I don’t honestly remember whether it was in person, it may have been – my immediate reaction was that I hadn’t done foreign policy. That, yes, I was chief of staff to the leader and so foreign policy issues came through the office, but I think it would be true of almost any issue that came through the office that I viewed my job as knowing enough about an issue to know where the problems would be, both in terms of substance and particularly with regard to politics, politically, and with regard to legislative issues. If a person came to me and said, “Here’s a good idea for legislation.” And I would say, “But it’s not going to go to his committee, it’s going to go to Hollings’ committee. Where does that leave us?” There were those sorts of questions, and I was a gatekeeper but only in the sense, I felt, of facilitating access in a constructive way to the Senator. So I didn’t have an in-depth experience in anything, frankly.

With each position I took in the Senate, and this interview isn’t about me so I’m going to quit after I say this, but with each new position, going from committee staff to being chief of staff to the majority leader, with committee staff you’re supposed to know a very lot about very little, and when you’re chief of staff you’re supposed to know very little about a lot, they are just diametrically opposite skills. And so I didn’t know that I could help him in Northern Ireland, but subsequently I went home and thought about it and decided it would be an interesting thing to do, so I called him and said, “Sure, thank you, and I’ll accept the offer.”

BW: So was it a sad day to leave the Hill and start a new career path?

MP: It was so hectic, I was still secretary of the Senate, and I had to go to the well of the Senate and help swear in all of the new class, and literally I did that and when I finished swearing in the last senator I went out the back door and got in a car and went to my new job. There was no transition, and so that was good in a way, I suppose, but there was no transition. One day I was working as secretary and the next day I was at the State Department.

BW: So David, how did you get involved in this – well first of all, let me ask you this. Had you had any prior contacts with Senator Mitchell, was he someone -?

David Pozorski: No, just what I knew from the newspapers.

BW: So what were the circumstances then of your getting involved?

DP: Now, do you want my name and -?

BW: Oh, I’m sorry.

DP: David Pozorski, last name is spelled P-O-Z-O-R-S-K-I, date of birth June 26, 1947, father Roman Leonard Pozorski, mother Betty Graham.

BW: Thank you for doing my job. So talk about your getting involved.

DP: Oh, it was serendipity. I was a career Foreign Service officer at the time, I was deputy director of our German desk, which covered Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and I suppose in part, as I said, the serendipity, I can thank Richard Holbrooke in part for the fact that I was available for consideration for the position. Holbrooke had been ambassador to Germany for awhile, about eight months or so, he came back in 1994 to serve as assistant secretary for European affairs, and he was a proponent of a rationalization of positions at the State Department, it was a period of low resources. And one of his ideas was eliminating deputy director jobs from these geographic offices in the European bureau, which was something that I actually thought was a pretty good idea.

So I was available, along with a couple of other officers, and I was offered, as a possibility, I had lunch with Martha on the Hill, and I guess I was acceptable. And so I became sort of the State Department minder in the office that was established for Senator Mitchell, as it turned out, the seventh floor of the State Department which, again by chance probably, but it’s the most prestigious floor to have an office.

MP: May I just say that we were very lucky to get him. I suppose all along they would have given us a minder, it never occurred to me at the time, but the State Department would have wanted somebody in this office that had a former majority leader for the Senate and a former chief of staff to the leader. We were part of the Hill culture and not part of the State Department culture, and they’re very different things. And so David helped us through all of that, just as a basic contribution, but then beyond that he was just hugely helpful on all sorts of levels, with being thoughtful, and historical perspective, and a good ability to write, and he was just a huge stabilizing presence in the office, he held it together in important ways. So we were very lucky.

BW: And who were you reporting to then, in the State Department?

DP: To Martha.

MP: To Senator Mitchell.

DP: And to Senator Mitchell, ultimately.

BW: And when did Kelly Currie become involved, at the same time?

MP: No, Kelly became involved when we were in Northern Ireland and it was – when did he become involved? When it was clear, we were trying to rely on Diane [ ] too much [given her other responsibilities].

DP: Right, it would have been June of 1996.

MP: Of ‘96, so the job started in ‘95, right?

DP: The job started at the turn of the year, 1995.

MP: ‘Ninety-five.

DP: Right, and we initially, the goal was to organize and host a White House conference on trade and development in Northern Ireland, and for political reasons, the six border counties of Ireland as well. And the target date was sometime in March of 1995, and that was pushed back to May, when the event actually took place.

MP: But once we finished that, then Mitchell was appointed, what was his title? We had a new task then to negotiate decommissioning.

DP: Right, that came about later, though.

MP: Or do a decommissioning report?

DP: Yes, that came about later. Senator Mitchell took two trips to Northern Ireland preparing for the conference, one in February, and if memory serves, again in April, and the goal there was to meet all the parties. But not just folks involved in economic stuff, it was important to meet with political actors as well, and of course business. Senator Mitchell met representatives of all the political parties in addition, of course, to the government leaders in the U.K. and Ireland, and it’s basically that, those trips, followed by a third trip in July, after the conference, again, seeing some of the same players, and the conference turned out to be quite a success, sort of a big-tent event.

And eventually, it was probably, I remember, it didn’t become public until December of 1995 that Senator Mitchell, along with two other leaders, former Finnish prime minister and former Canadian equivalent of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were invited to be co-chairmen of the commission to look at the question of decommissioning. And this all became public, if memory serves, when we were invited back actually to help work on the visit of President Clinton, sort of a tree lighting ceremony in Northern Ireland, at least that was the big highlight, in early December of that year. And so we were invited to go back, and we worked on that for a couple of weeks, staying with the consul general, at the time Kathy Stephens, who is now ambassador to South Korea.

MP: And when did we get Kelly?

DP: Kelly, gosh -

MP: I can’t remember.

DP: I think it wasn’t until the actual talks that began.

MP: Yes, I think that that’s right.

DP: Because there was roughly speaking a two week period in December-January, when we were in Northern Ireland, the U.K. and Ireland, very intensive period of discussions with every player who was willing to talk with us was in that time frame, and we did lots and lots of interviews and then wrote this report on decommissioning.

MP: And Kelly was on board for that. Well, you’ll have to ask Kelly the question.

BW: He’s the missing person here.

MP: But it’s important to talk to him up there if you can.

DP: He must have been part of that, because Diane wasn’t.

MP: Diane would know too, when she just couldn’t handle it anymore.

DP: No, he definitely was there, he definitely was there.

BW: This leads to lots of questions, one of which is, where were you working most of the time? Were you on the seventh floor of the State Department, or were you mostly in Belfast, or, where were you for that early period?

MP: For the early period, well, there was a period early on, when we were doing the economic conference we were at the State Department, and then when that was over there was a very quiet period where we almost were without assignment, because they were working on a new appointment for Mitchell. And so we were at the State Department then just kind of waiting. And then when we started the decommissioning report we were in Northern Ireland a lot, but were we living there by then?

DP: We spent two weeks there, a total of two weeks.

MP: Two weeks, yes, and then we did the decommissioning report.

DP: Right, we did that in Belfast and produced it there.

MP: In Belfast, and I remember in the Churchill Hotel in London, where we finished printing it and there was a virus in the hotel printer, or computer, somehow. And it was all finished and then we found there was a letter ‘e’ or something that got introduced and we were scrambling to put it on personal computers and redo it. Just a little aside.

DP: To me, there were self-imposed deadlines.

MP: But not many people know about that, actually, that’s a bit of new information for you.

BW: So when was the decommissioning report issued, that was in December?

DP: January.

BW: January of ‘96.

MP: And then he was appointed – what was his title? Chairman.

DP: Chairman, he was one of the three chairmen.

MP: Chairman of, did they ever call it peace negotiations? What were we called? In any event, that’s when we more or less started living there, living in Northern Ireland.

DP: Not really until June of ‘96, that’s when we decamped for Belfast. I remember pretty vividly I think, I was late to the party because I had foolishly forgotten my passport and so I missed a plane, but I got in Belfast in time for the Senator’s meeting with the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and Paisley, Sr., and later of the Ulster Unionist Party’s David Trimble. And that meeting was significant in that they both told Senator Mitchell to pack his bags and go home, this wasn’t going to work, he was pro-Irish. And Senator Mitchell, as always, stoic, and at the end of the day both the Irish and, well in this case the British government, which is the government with influence over the DUP and UUP, said that ‘Senator Mitchell stays.’

MP: Well, I think that that, yes, I think that’s correct, I don’t disagree with that, but in the interim I remember Senator Mitchell making it clear that he was not going to wait forever, and that if he left he was going to be honest about it.

DP: That would be, exactly, exactly.

MP: He would be honest about the reasons for leaving. And after that, I don’t know whether the British said, ‘these talks are going to occur whether Trimble and Paisley concurred in that,’ in a quiet way.

DP: I think it’s the latter, but don’t really know that for a fact.

MP: But [we] wouldn’t know, [we’d] be speculating.

BW: Throughout this whole period up to, I feel we’ve gotten as far as early ‘96 at this point, who was driving this whole effort on the American side? Was Bill Clinton involved in this directly, was the White House, or was it a State Department adventure, where was the wind behind your sails?

MP: I would say the president was very directly involved.

DP: Absolutely, very directly involved.

MP: There was never a time when anyone felt that the president wasn’t focused on the issue, whether it was the economic conference or decommissioning, or peace negotiations.

DP: The president was involved, absolutely.

MP: The president was driving it.

DP: Absolutely, and the State Department historically was reluctant, always supported the United Kingdom in Northern Ireland matters. So the State Department was the place to be, but the president set the policy, the State Department played a minor role I think. Well, a major role in Belfast in the person of the consulate general of course.

MP: In fact, there was a lot of unpleasant reaction within State Department, and certainly the British embassy, when Clinton gave Gerry Adams a visa to come to the United States. The State Department would not have agreed with that decision.

DP: Yes, that was a huge, huge decision, and very significant factor in the way things played out.

MP: And then there would have been old Irish hands in the Congress that wouldn’t have agreed with that as well.

BW: In addition to the president, were there certain people on his staff that were working closely with you, or was it pretty much you operating just with his approval?

MP: We had to be independent, and I think we truly were independent. As David mentioned earlier, the Unionists were very concerned about our involvement and whether or not we were pro-Irish, and we weren’t, well we were paid by the State Department, but State Department was supposed to be reimbursed by the British and Irish governments for our salaries, which I don’t know if they were subsequently. I think the State Department forgot to bill them, and after we left I don’t know if they ever got the money. But just to make the point that we were supposed to be independent, we needed to be independent, and I felt that we were independent. So I never felt that we were working with anybody in the White House.

Now, Tony Lake was there, and Nancy Soderberg, and she was always very involved in Irish issues. But we did not and could not work with them, we kept them informed in a responsible way, and we certainly kept the consul general informed, and I think that was one of the ways -

DP: That was the main conduit.

MP: The main conduit, through the consul general, Kathy Stephens, but we were independent.

DP: Now, we did work with, on the conference that preceded the talks, Kathy was the Northern Ireland person, the Irish person on the NSC, so we worked with her and other departments, principally Commerce, on the conference itself. But as Martha said, once the talks began we were completely independent, and had to be to have credibility.

BW: So I’m intrigued by this move from economic issues to decommissioning to peace negotiations, and you’ve followed that trail already but what was the significance of what caused these various segues to occur?

MP: What caused them occur? Hmm, there were, well let me see if I can do this without jumping around. First of all, there were people probably within the Congress, and maybe within the administration, but there was always talk of a peace envoy to Northern Ireland, so that was always out there, an envoy. And then a half measure toward an envoy was this economic conference, the understanding being that if people are employed they don’t engage in violence, and so we were going to have an economic conference and focus on investment in Northern Ireland and this would help the peace situation. So we did that, the economic conference was a way toward peace.

And then decommissioning was a sticking point for an agreement toward peace, and once we got that out of the way, then it was felt the time might be ripe, not for an envoy from the United States, but more of an independent group of chairmen that were acceptable to the British and the Irish to sit down together and conduct negotiations.

DP: Now we might have, I’m purely speculating here, we might have, the talks might have begun earlier than June of 1996, but there was the Canary Wharf bombing in late January of ‘96, after the decommissioning report had been issued, so that delayed things, for obvious reason, for months.

MP: But there were lots of conversations going on.

DP: Right.

MP: Just not a formal agreement to this particular body of three chairmen doing something formally, but there were conversations going on.

DP: That’s right.

BW: Was the decommissioning, was that the Mitchell Principles, or that followed later I guess.

MP: No, that was the Mitchell Principles, wasn’t it?

DP: Yes, it was the Mitchell Principles, as part of the decommissioning.

MP: [p/o]

BW: [p/o]

DP: The essence of the decommissioning report was, I mean the question is: is there a willingness to decommission? And the answer was, “Yes, if the circumstances are right.”

BW: But this is one question that may be jumping ahead and such, but decommissioning never really finally occurred. Has it even occurred now?

MP: Yes, it has occurred. It occurred, the republicans decommissioned after 9/11, agreed to it shortly after 9/11, and the loyalists -

DP: Years later.

MP: Years later, more recently. And the loyalists are split, so different groups came on at different times. But they finally agreed to it, and I don’t know if they ever would have without 9/11.

DP: And there still are a few splinter IRA groups around who would never, or have never -

MP: And who haven’t decommissioned, and the Omagh bombing was an example of that.

BW: But essentially, everyone agreed to the eventuality of decommissioning?

MP: No.

DP: No, the possibility of decommissioning.

MP: It was in the final agreement, circumstances were laid out, and eventually they reached the point where they agreed to do it.

BW: So at the time that the decommissioning report was issued, that was not something that anyone was agreeing to, that was something that you all were laying out, is that correct?

DP: Right, there were two parts to the decommission report, one sort of political – is the will there. And second was the modalities, you know, if decommissioning were to be done, how would you do it, and that was the responsibility of the Canadian co-chairman.

MP: There were issues involved, like would the weapons be handed in, that was never going to happen because that would be to the republicans a form of surrender that would be used by the unionists rhetorically. So what it boiled down to was, would they put the guns beyond use, I think is the term of (unintelligible) they used, would they put it in cement, and so those sorts of things had to be worked out. And then they had to reach a point, and really, I think what would have been happening was that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and others, would have been working with the IRA Army Council to bring them on board and give them confidence, and time would have passed and the relevance of guns would have faded, and in a very slow process Adams would have brought his people on board.

David really can speak to this more than I, but the history of the IRA is that every time one faction agrees to some sort of a cease fire, there’s a splinter, and the splinter group continues on. So what Adams had to do, and did for the most part with the exception of the real IRA and the bombing in Omagh, was largely bring the [ ] IRA with him, with a small splinter group which I think I read included the army quartermaster who had the weapons, [and] was from the border region.

BW: So when did the scene change to Stormont?

DP: June of 1996.

BW: So that started this long process that led up to Good Friday.

MP: And that’s when we more or less lived, the staff or officials, we officials, in Northern Ireland, we had to be there when Senator Mitchell wasn’t, and we had to be there when Senator Mitchell was, so there were very long periods when we didn’t get home.

BW: So characterize that almost, what, year-and-a-half, I guess about a year-and-a-half, mid-‘96 to early spring in ‘98.

DP: Well, the agreement was reached on April 9, formally speaking, 1998. We stayed through the referendum in May to finish up business.

MP: So we were there almost two years, living on the ground, ‘96 to ‘98.

BW: So how would you characterize those two years?

MP: Well, as far as being together as a group, if that’s part of the dynamic you want to hear about, that went very well in terms of David and Kelly and I and the consul general, Kathy Stephens and her son James, and Cynthia and Max – Cynthia was the vice consul. And then a delightful man named Marcus Laurent, who was the official for the Finnish chair; former Prime Minister Harry Holkeri. And then there was, from Dublin, Richard Norland, and we formed a very congenial group, and that made it exceedingly easier to be there on the ground. So that part of it went very, very well, and there was never a time that I can remember when there were problems in our group. We all functioned wonderfully together.

BW: Who was in charge of that group?

DP: Martha.

MP: I guess I’d have to say that I was.

DP: But Martha was on the ground more than anybody. My wife was a Foreign Service officer serving in Munich, so I would go back to Munich twice a month, and Marcus lived kind of close by in Finland, so he’d go back and see his family. But for Martha, it was a longer trip and so she was on the ground almost all the time.

MP: Yes, almost all the time, but I had been Mitchell’s chief of staff, and I was functioning as his deputy or chief of staff. And I never felt that David worked for me, or that Kelly worked for me, or certainly that Marcus worked for me, but because of my long association with George Mitchell, then I would have been more of a director, in the sense of how we should proceed, and was certainly a major point of contact for the Senator.

DP: And an important aspect of that was working with the Irish and British governments, both of whom would have teams working on the talks with us. And Martha, as the senior and the closest to Senator Mitchell, she was the one that dealt on a day-to-day basis with the Irish and British officials, became very close and they didn’t always agree, of course, but it was that relationship that was very important to the continuity and the success of the talks, in my view.

MP: People had to have a person to go to, and I guess that I would have to say I was that person.

BW: And what did your activities mainly consist in doing?

MP: Well, for months, years, we would have a topic and we would all sit in a room and we’d go around the table with the different parties, very deliberately placed and arranged so the wrong people wouldn’t have to sit next to each other, and people would give their views, and sometimes it was dignified and sometimes it was a harangue and it felt as though no progress was being made. But I do remember reminding some of the parties that progress was being made, just the fact that everybody was at the table, and that these issues were being aired didn’t mean that progress wasn’t being made, and that the important thing to remember was that if these negotiations succeeded, they would exceed in the final days of the talks, that there had to be some impetus to finishing this up, and once that happened, it was going to happen very, very quickly because there wasn’t anything new to say.

In fact, this is an exaggeration, but not much of one. By the time we arrived in Northern Ireland for the negotiations, there wasn’t much new to say. They’d had the Sunningdale Agreement; they’d had the Brooks Talks. In fact, to some extent, they called the Good Friday Agreement ‘Sunningdale for slow learners,’ that was what Seamus Mallon called it. And I suppose the same is true of the Middle East. It isn’t that there’s some new magical formula that is going to be found to fix something, but in Northern Ireland, you had to have the circumstances on the ground to allow what had been said for years, for decades, to suddenly come to fruition. And that’s what happened. We sat around the table and talked and talked and talked. And David can tell you some of the topics probably, I mean I could if I thought really hard, but this went on for months and for years, and people would become discouraged. And then the circumstances came together where this was going to happen.

And I’ll tell you what I think the circumstances were, but I want to say before, that one of Senator Mitchell’s greatest contributions, as reflecting one of his greatest strengths, was that he held the talks together for two years in the face of what everybody thought was failure. People thought we weren’t making progress, and yet he had the stature, and the patience, and the gravitas, to keep those talks together until the circumstances were correct on the ground for an agreement to be reached.

DP: I would certainly second that, that one of the Senator’s greatest strengths is his ability to preside over these talks day in and day out. When he was there, I mean he wasn’t there all the time, obviously, but he set the tone for Harri Holkeri, who usually substituted for him when he was not there. A judicious tone, a gravitas, a willingness to sit there and listen to people who largely (unintelligible), and to hear of things we’ve heard a million times before, but he always maintained his cool, his calm, his cool demeanor. It was a very, very impressive performance. I can’t remember that he ever even looked cross at anybody.

MP: No, and he had huge gravitas, and he also is an extremely intelligent man. I think Bill Clinton is extremely intelligent, and the two of them seem to have incredible memories, almost photographic, and I think that the people who had a tendency in the past to cause trouble within negotiations and to break up peace talks, cause them to fail, they were I think a little intimidated – they were very intimidated I would say by Senator Mitchell’s intellect. So that Robert McCartney – very careful with Senator Mitchell.

DP: McCartney was a lawyer himself, sort of a one-man party, articulate in his own way, had a way of marshaling an argument that superficially could be seen as persuasive, but he knew that Senator Mitchell was his intellectual superior.

MP: Yes, so those were some of the things that contributed to the talks continuing for two years.

BW: In that process, were you getting positive feedback from some of the participants about the way Mitchell was playing the role, or not?

MP: We were getting positive and we were getting negative. I think some people were impressed that he could keep it going, because they’d seen talks collapse and fail, and I think some people were frustrated because they felt that he should be tougher with the people that were just keeping things going, going, going, without any result.

DP: I think that’s right. And another one of his techniques to keep every party participating apprised of his thinking and of his developments. He would invite parties to come, to meet with him and with the other chairman to discuss, outside the chamber where the talks actually took place, and that was very useful in keeping things going.

MP: He was very accessible.

End of CD One

CD Two

BW: Was there a darkest moment during this period that comes to your minds, or was it all just sort of unbroken weather, bright days and dark days one after another, or what?

MP: Well, dark moment when the IRA – let’s see, the talks, we had Canary Wharf -

DP: That was January of ‘96, and because of Canary Wharf, Sinn Fein was not a participant in talks as they began in June of ‘96. And that was beyond question, nobody was arguing that Sinn Fein should participate at that time, because the cease fire had been broken and that hadn’t been restored.

MP: And so we were having talks without Sinn Fein, and then they declared a cease fire and they came into the building. That was not a dark moment. What would a dark moment be? It was all pretty, well, I’m not going to say it was gloomy, it wasn’t, and it was fascinating, and I never thought that the lack of progress, I didn’t necessarily think for sure we were going to get an agreement until toward the end, but I never thought it was impossible, because I knew it was just a matter of the circumstances being right on the ground.

I remember one dark moment when Senator Mitchell sent a signal to Seamus Mallon, about how he was going to proceed on an issue. And then he changed his position, he didn’t change his position on the end result, but he changed his position on how he was going to get there, on the tactics, and there was a bit of a blow up over that.

DP: That was smoothed over.

MP: But it was smoothed over very, very quickly.

DP: Right, on a face-to-face basis. That was just a misunderstanding.

MP: Yes, but I can’t remember, was there a dark moment, where the IRA were there, well, was there violence on the ground?

DP: Well, in January of [1998] there were a series of murders, mostly done by [ ] loyalists. There were a total of eight murders, and that called into question the participation of the very small parties representing the loyalist militias, if you will, and that was a pretty dicey moment.

MP: And what happened when we were down in Dublin and there was some, when we were in Dublin for the talks there was some question about Sinn Fein’s involvement, and when we were in London the same thing happened with the loyalists.

DP: That was February of [1998] and by then Sinn Fein -

BW: ‘Nineteen ninety-eight.

DP: I keep missing by a decade, 1998, thank you, right, Sinn Fein had joined the talks, the IRA had declared a cease fire again in July of 1997, after the British election of May that brought in Tony Blair and the Labor Party. The talks had been suspended in March of 1997 to await the outcome of - The consensus was that, we’re spinning wheels here, let’s wait to see how the British elections turn out. And so by the summer of 1997 we had new leaders in both the U.K. and Ireland, both of whom were even more committed to the progress and eventual success of the talks than their predecessors. Bertie Ahern in the Irish case and Tony Blair, both of whom put their personal prestige on the line.

MP: And I would say parenthetically that’s what I’ve always felt was the reason ultimately that we got the Good Friday Agreement, because Blair had been elected with such a huge majority that the unionists felt that it was to their benefit then to get an agreement.

DP: I agree. As a consequence, of course, of the invitation to Sinn Fein to join the talks after the IRA declared its cease fire again in July, the DUP and this fellow Robert McCartney and his one-person party, well, two people I guess, Cedric Wilson -

MP: At the time.

DP: Right, they walked away from the talks, so Sinn Fein came in, the DUP and the U.K. UP walked out. But as Martha said, in the early part of 1998, there were some dark moments. We had two sort of road shows, one in London, one in Dublin, and there was talk about, in Dublin, booting the loyalists out, because of the murders and -

MP: No, the Sinn Fein was in Dublin, we were going to throw them out. And don’t you remember, that Gerry Adams didn’t testify but sent Gerry Kelly? [It] doesn’t matter, not relevant, but there were some dark moments, but not hopeless ones.

BW: You said earlier that you kept being hopeful that it would be a positive outcome. Was there then a trigger? Was it the Blair-Ahern elections that was the trigger for the Good Friday Agreements, or was there something else that happened in those very last days?

MP: I think that was the trigger, but in the final hours of the negotiations Bill Clinton did talk to David Trimble and others, Clinton was involved; middle of the night he was calling in and making phone calls. But I think that the impetus was largely the British election, actually. I’m trying to remember on the Irish side what the change in dynamic was, but on the British side you had a change from Major having no majority, and always being on the edge of whether his government was going to fall. David can discuss more eloquently than I whether the Northern Ireland MPs would have brought it down, but Major had no majority. And then Tony Blair came in with a huge majority, no fear of the government falling, much different perspective probably on Northern Ireland, and a commitment to getting it done. And I think that the unionists had to have seen that and realized that there was a lot that could have been done – in American terms I guess the word would be ‘administratively’ – without an agreement, with regard to policing and with regard to some circumstances on the ground. And it became to the unionist benefit then to negotiate those circumstances, negotiate those issues. But David, please disagree if I -

DP: No, I think that’s entirely accurate.

BW: So what were those last few hours or couple of days like for you all?

MP: My honest memory of it is that, of course we went round the clock, but it was largely in the hands of the British and Irish, in the final days.

DP: There were two straight days at the end – there were two solid weeks as I recall, and the Senator was there and so it was a long, long time, I mean he made the commitment to stick it out, this was it. And the last two days were the crunch days, and Martha’s right that the British and the Irish governments did the heavy lifting with their respective client parties, if you will, the Irish with Sinn Fein and the SDLP, and the British with the unionists’ parties.

I would argue, and have always argued, that we could have written the substance of the agreement, we had a pretty good idea of what would work, what wouldn’t work, but it was better – there was never an option in any case, it was always the governments who were going to really be involved in selling the package to their parties. And they did a good job, and it was literally around the clock.

MP: And in the end -

DP: The Senator was up all forty-eight hours.

MP: Yes, he was up. And in the end, he presented the proposal, with the other chair, two chairmen, and that was to the advantage of the unionists because they didn’t have to agree to something that the Irish had negotiated, and it was to the advantage of the nationalists and republicans because they weren’t agreeing to anything that the British had negotiated, it was a neutral party that had negotiated this agreement.

BW: At some point a deadline was issued for the talks to end, am I correct on that, and how much did that play into it? Or am I, I thought I got that from Mitchell’s book, that he said, we got to reach an agreement by, I think two days prior to the 9th?

DP: Well, I think Senator Mitchell made it clear that this had to come to a conclusion sooner rather than later. I don’t remember a specific [date].

MP: I do remember him saying that, or there was some sort of a deadline. But I think by then, that always focuses the mind, that sort of a deadline. It would happen in the Congress, we would come up against Christmas and everybody wanted to go home, and it focused the mind and people would stop offering extraneous amendments. And so I suspect that that did influence the final hours in some respect.

DP: And as Martha said, I think that was the only way it could work out at the end, that there had to be a time at which point everybody had to buckle down.

MP: Yes, and you had to be in the room. That’s what I said to them, when this finishes, it’s going to finish quickly and you have to be in there, that’s how it’s going to happen. It’s not going to happen that the parties are going to agree to a little bit here and then get pounded on by the other side, and agree to a little bit there and get pounded on by the opposition, that no one is going to agree to anything publicly until everyone agrees to everything publicly, and it will happen very quickly. And that’s basically what happened, and I think Senator Mitchell’s deadline probably focused people on getting the job done.

DP: The governments agreed.

BW: So what was that day like, and then the immediate aftermath, while you were still in Northern Ireland?

MP: It was celebratory in the final -

DP: It was quite dramatic, I thought.

MP: It was quite dramatic and quite moving, and everybody was very, very thrilled, I think is fair to say. A big hurrah went up outside of the talks, and there was a very warm feeling that it had been done. Of course not everyone was in the room agreeing.

DP: True, but at the time, and all credit to David Trimble and his UUP team, because they basically walked through a gauntlet to come into the building for the final agreement.

MP: And in the end, they paid politically.

DP: They did.

MP: In the end he was defeated and their party became the smaller unionist party.

BW: And then what was your work like from then until the May referendum?

MP: Closing the shop. We could not be involved in the referenda at all, we just closed the shop and packed our things.

BW: Throughout this whole process, did you have much contact with the Irish, the Northern Irish outside of the people that were participating?

MP: We had some contact with Irish, the Irish government and Irish officials quite a bit, and with British government, British officials quite a bit, but outside of government people, or people involved in the talks, some but not a lot. Not much, wouldn’t you say, would you say very little would capture it?

DP: Very little would capture it, I mean we were pretty much engaged in the talks.

MP: Friendships outside would have been difficult, because we were neutral.

DP: Yes, we had to be very careful. And obviously, at the talks with the parties involved, we had contact with the participants, and there again, Martha was the principal liaison between us, and on a day-to-day basis certainly with all of the parties that were engaged.

BW: So you traveled from your hotel to Stormont by limousine, and back.

MP: Not limousine.

DP: A car.

MP: Actually, I have to say, there was no sort of luxurious involvement in any of this, we stayed at the Europa Hotel for the first year, and that was a fairly miserable existence – not a reflection on the hotel, but living in a hotel room, certainly not a luxury hotel at the time.

DP: It’s claim to fame was it was the most bombed hotel in western Europe.

MP: Yes, although there was only one bomb scare the whole time we were there. I happened to be out of town at the time. But yes, the hotel existence wasn’t great, but we had a driver and a car, and we all jammed in, and Mitchell would ride up in front with the driver, and the three of us would be in the back, and we’d ride up every day and ride back every day. And then finally they found a bed and breakfast for us that Kelly and David and I could move to, that had a separate building, and we moved into that building and we each had a bedroom and a bath, and then there was a living room and a kitchen, so that we could cook some of our own meals. And then there was the, was it Sainsbury’s, or no, no, the name of the grocery store, and they had these great pre-prepared meals that you could get, and so we would make our meals.

DP: It was actually the healthier option than either -

MP: Healthier option, and we would have, and the consul general and others, Marcus Laurent would come, the Finn, and we’d have our meals and get together, and that was much, much easier on the spirits.

BW: Senator Mitchell in the front of the car, and you three in the back, what was it like being with Senator Mitchell during this period, just in terms of personality and so forth?

MP: Well, Senator Mitchell is just a very even person, I guess is the best way to describe it, and I don’t remember unpleasantness, and we would drive back and forth mostly discussing issues and how we were going to handle it. I’d say businesslike.

DP: Yes, and we would typically have, when he was in Belfast for the talks, we’d typically have lunch together at Stormont.

MP: Sandwiches.

DP: Sandwiches or whatever, and it was usually talking business, but just fine, that’s why we were there.

BW: Was he giving vent to frustration at all with you folks, or was it pretty much just talking the issues?

MP: Well, I think at times certainly it was frustrating for all of us, but giving vent wouldn’t describe George Mitchell, he’s much too even-tempered to kind of remember any incident of that sort. So if he was frustrated, we’d talk about -

DP: I mean occasionally he would express frustration about progress, but that’s normal.

MP: And then we’d just talk about how to get through it and how to resolve things.

BW: Did you find, Martha, that interacting with him in this venue was remarkably different from working with him in the Senate?

MP: I would say not, and in fact what I discovered, after initially being hesitant about taking the job, was that it was the same job, that it was not foreign policy, it was politics in a different country. But it was the same job, which was to know who the people were, and to get a sense of what their needs were, and learn what to expect in terms of reactions from them and try to anticipate a way to thread the needle and get some sort of positive result. But it didn’t feel very different to me than being chief of staff to the majority leader after a while, it felt like the same job.

BW: You have said that he could be very partisan as majority leader and as a senator, but that, he must have had to disguise that or just eliminate it in this role.

MP: Well, I don’t think I said that he was partisan as majority leader, but I know he has that reputation certainly on the Republican side of the aisle. I think on the Democratic side of the aisle, there were people that felt he wasn’t partisan enough. And I think he got that reputation for being very partisan, he was partisan in the sense – I’ll just quickly discuss – well the answer with regard to Northern Ireland was, he was neutral, he was not partisan. Now, if you want me to go back and discuss whether he was partisan in the Senate, I’m happy to do that, but you may not want me to take the time of the interview to do that.

BW: Well that is a bit off topic, isn’t it.

MP: Yes, but I would say the answer is much, much more complicated than that, and the important point to make is that in the Senate he never, ever blind sided Dole, he always told him what he was doing. Yes, we had legislation and the goal was to pass that legislation, but we always negotiated and we always were honest. I think he got the reputation for being partisan because of the budget talks, and was held responsible for George Bush reneging on his promise of no new taxes, that Senator Mitchell was credited or blamed, depending on your perspective for that, and that lent the reputation that he was partisan. But I think he was pretty fair.

BW: What about the general cast of characters, looking at the pictures in George Mitchell’s book and knowing a little bit about he and Paisley myself just because he was in the news so often and whatnot, who stands out, and can you give any impressions of some of the people that were in and out around the table?

MP: Sure, there were some people around that table that had been in jail for trying to set a bomb. I remember David Ervine in particular. I’ll talk about David Ervine and Gusty Spence, who were loyalists, and Gusty was the first loyalist to go to jail, I think, for murder.

DP: ‘Sixty-six.

MP: And David [Ervine] was caught with a bomb in the car, and they tied a rope around his waist, and the story goes, made him defuse the bomb before they hauled him off to prison. And I think those two people aren’t given nearly enough credit for their contribution to the talks. They were very, very committed to a positive outcome, and they had learned to defy the Reverend Ian Paisley, and that was a huge contribution to reaching an agreement. Because in the past, any agreement that was reached would be brought down on the ground by the loyalists, and once the loyalists refused to respond to Paisley, then it enabled the talks to go forward.

So much of the animosity within the talks was not republican versus loyalist, even though they could have, [in the past], been engaged in [attacking] one another. But it was between loyalists and unionists, that was the highest, and between unionists and the British government. That was the highest level of animosity. But David and Gusty learned to think for themselves, and when Sinn Fein walked back into the talks, [ ] the unionists Paisley [and] Trimble walked [out. But Trimble eventually returned and] he was between the two loyalists when he did that. The fact that [the loyalists] didn’t walk out was huge.

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were very, I would say intelligent, sophisticated negotiators, they had been at it longer than the loyalists, and there was a sense of self-assurance there that the loyalists did not initially have.

DP: But I would agree that David Ervine was, at least for my tastes, if not the most, certainly one of the most sensible, practical, rational participants. He was a very, very impressive guy, and his premature loss is -

MP: Yes, he passed away, in his forties, thirties?

DP: Fifty-three.

MP: But I don’t think the agreement would have happened without his participation in the talks. The Women’s Coalition, very thoughtful people, Monica McWilliams, very thoughtful person, formed an important working relationship with the loyalists. John Hume and Seamus Mallon and the SDLP were very experienced hands politically, they’d been members of parliament, participating, which Sinn Fein hadn’t participated, and they’d been through many, many negotiations and many agreements. So they were in the room for the agreements, and the Alliance Party was in the room, very sophisticated, and the unionists were in the room, but in the end the agreement couldn’t be reached unless the loyalists and Sinn Fein were there, and this was the first set of talks, where they had participated openly and publicly within the room, and that made a very big difference.

Characters, if you want characters, I’d say McCartney was the biggest character, wouldn’t you?

DP: Indeed.

MP: And I can’t give you an example off the top of my head, but he was a character.

DP: Yes, he’d go off on these tangents and use words that I’d never even heard of, go on and on and on. It was entertaining in its own way.

MP: But there wasn’t a lot of laughing going on in the room.

BW: Somehow it doesn’t surprise me to hear you say that.

MP: But it wasn’t as though there was huge tension that you could cut with a knife either. I mean, for most of the time people were going through their assigned roles, and they’d been through it before. Fair to say?

DP: And they were used to screaming at each other.

MP: Oh sure, they were used to insulting each other, but because of Mitchell, it never got out of hand, because of his gravitas, he’s a very good chair, he chaired the talks expertly, so it was never as though every day people were yelling at each other, there was lots of tension. They were just going on and on and on and on, in their assigned roles.

DP: And my sense was that there was a, exactly, there was a bit of play acting there, I mean delivering lines, that they knew that everybody had heard it before, but with real conviction, so.

BW: What was security like going in and out of the building?

MP: Did we have any?

DP: I don’t remember any.

MP: We had I.D.s.

DP: There wasn’t any security that I can remember.

MP: No, there was never any fear that anything would happen in the building, because the people that were going to do it were in the building. I mean, no, we never were under any threat. Is that an exaggeration, David? We were never under any threat. The republicans, Sinn Fein, no one had any interest in harming us in any way, and they didn’t want to. And besides which, they didn’t hold any animosity toward us, so we were never under any threat.

BW: How was the media covering the story in Northern Ireland, in all three jurisdictions?

MP: Well, I would like you to ask Kelly that question, but I think that to some extent, you know the British press, and they all have their assigned roles, the conservatives, and in Northern Ireland it’s much the same. But there were some people I thought that were pretty constructive and – oh, golly, what was his name, and he’s gone on to be with BBC?

DP: Oh, Mark Simpson?

MP: Mark Simpson I thought was very -

DP: Very good, very thoughtful.

MP: Good and thoughtful, and there were others, but Kelly will remember all of that.

DP: Kelly had developed a great network of relations with the press.

BW: I feel like I need to ask this, how did Mitchell handle the Gerry Kelly matter?

MP: Senator Mitchell really wasn’t engaged in it, I would say is the fair answer to that. I found out on a Sunday, actually, from a friend that worked for the British Embassy, that the story was breaking, much to my shock and chagrin. I remember calling Senator Mitchell, knowing that it was a political problem, and I did offer to resign, and I can’t remember if he asked me if the story was true or not, I’d like to think he wouldn’t have to ask but if he did, the story certainly wasn’t true. I got on a plane and went back on a Monday morning, I was met by the press at Heathrow Airport, I was met by the press at the Europa Hotel, I was met by the press at the gates of Stormont, in all of those encounters I only had a limited thing to say, which was, to any question that they asked I would say, “Well, what’s really important here is there’s no truth to the story whatsoever, I’ve never met Mr. Kelly, and on advice of solicitor, I won’t have any further comment.”

And then the story shifted to, ‘oh, so I was suing.’ And fortunately I had never met him, so the two papers that had broken the story without talking to me came in fairly quickly, probably set a record in negotiating. In part I have to say, and I guess, even though I’m being recorded I don’t mind doing this for posterity, I think the reason that it was resolved so quickly was that one of the newspapers was partially owned by Tony O’Reilly, who owned Heinz at the time, I think at the time, and he owned one of the papers. In any event, he was very active in American Irish issues and events, and I did call the president of Heinz to alert them to the fact that I was suing. And I think that probably Mr. O’Reilly was the reason his paper negotiated so quickly. And then once his paper negotiated so quickly, the other did as well. And then any others that had carried the story did, so in the end there were probably at least a half dozen papers involved in it.

But luckily for me, I had never met him. I had spoken to him once on the phone, I didn’t honestly understand what role he was playing within Sinn Fein at the time, and so I think Senator Mitchell was not - So it was resolved very quickly. Now, my recollection of Senator Mitchell’s role was that he didn’t play a role. I handled the press, I handled it entirely, and he actually was not, he actually left Northern Ireland either Monday night or Tuesday morning, so he wasn’t there by Wednesday when the papers agreed to the settlement and the apology. So he didn’t play a very large role in it.

BW: Heinz is “57 Varieties” Heinz?

MP: Yes.

BW: I’m curious, for both of you, what contacts have you had with the Senator since Ireland?

MP: I haven’t had very many. I’d have to think what the occasions would have been, but I haven’t had any real contact.

DP: I ran into him in the State Department basement, he was in his current role as Arab-Israeli special envoy, and it was the first time I’d seen him since ‘98. He was very cordial and just spent a few minutes catching up, I asked about his children.

MP: I’ve seen him, I saw him at Northern Ireland events for several years afterwards, and I went to the unveiling of his portrait in the Senate, and we had a staff reunion, so that sort of thing. But I’m not working, I’ve worked on a number of boards, but not that would have crossed paths with him, so limited I’d say.

BW: What do you have to say about his role as special envoy today, what do you see, any thoughts about that?

MP: Well, I guess if I had to sum it up I would say that he played a very, very important role, and I’d be repeating myself but it’s worth repeating, that his judgment and his gravitas and his intelligence enabled him to keep talks going for two years, in the face of violence and discouragement, and I think he gained the respect of every single person in that room, and without his engagement it probably would not have occurred, ultimately.

DP: I completely agree, I can’t think of anybody else in the political constellation of this country who could have done what he did, nobody.

BW: And so that, how does that auger well for what he’s doing now?

MP: Totally different situations. In Northern Ireland you had people on the ground and nearly every political party wanting an agreement, thinking that it was in their best interests. And even though the Reverend Ian Paisley walked out initially and did eventually establish the DUP as the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland, to the detriment of Trimble, once he was in charge, then I think he started playing a constructive role, because it was in his best interests. But I think that the situation in the Middle East is a lot more complicated than that on the ground, and I think it’s going to be much, much more difficult.

BW: I’ve been concluding most of these interviews by asking people, as history looks back on George Mitchell, how should he be remembered. And particularly for you, Martha, include his Senate career and thoughts on that.

MP: How he should be remembered, and I think how he will be remembered is really going to be as he’s viewed now, as a highly skilled, talented, intelligent, judicious public servant, who can look back on a life of huge accomplishment and contribution to the greater good. If you look back on his environmental issues, even though he followed Senator Muskie, but he made a real contribution on his own, and health care issues, and economic issues with the budget discussions, and certainly foreign policy and peace negotiations, it’s a huge record to look back on. And I think he’ll be respected and possibly acclaimed for that. And it was a great honor to have worked for him.

BW: Your thoughts, David?

DP: Well, I only know the Senator from the Northern Ireland context, of course, first hand impressions in any case, but to me the fact that the agreement has survived, has formed the basis of politics in Northern Ireland since then – completely against my expectations. I assumed that success meant that space had been created for the moderates to take over. It turned out that I was totally wrong, it’s the extremes who wound up, but they accepted the basis of the agreement, and that’s, to me it’s inconceivable that this agreement could have been reached without somebody like, without George Mitchell himself.

BW: Are we leaving anything unsaid?

MP: Not really. You got a lot out of us, I didn’t know I would remember quite so much.

BW: I guess one final question here is, did you get thanks from the Senator for your work on this project? Did he say thank you?

MP: I do remember an occasion at the White House where there was a huge party, a tent on the lawn, and I remember he got a big award, is that when he got the Medal of Freedom? I don’t remember. But, and I do remember in the context of that he did thank me, yes.

DP: Certainly we met with President Clinton after the decommissioning report was issued, and the Senator was quite gracious in that meeting in acknowledging the work that we had done.

BW: Did you have a meeting with the White House after you came back and all was accomplished, or not?

MP: No, we had one meeting I remember, but I don’t remember why. We had one before the negotiations, or during the -

DP: This is after the decommissioning.

MP: After the decommissioning report, we did have a meeting with the president. Actually, I might add that the president was very nice about the Gerry Kelly issue. You can imagine that the State Department was, it really got their attention, to have one of the lead officials at the talks being accused of having an affair with somebody that was possibly with the IRA, but President Clinton responded to the press that there was no truth to it. I think he even said I was a friend, and he supported me very wholesomely to the press, yes, he was very helpful. And I would also like to add that the late President [sic: Senator] Kennedy, one of the things that will mean the most to me is that he called me, to make sure I was okay, and that’s not unusual.

DP: You mean Ted Kennedy.

MP: Ted Kennedy, yeah, I mean the late Senator Kennedy called, and that would be very typical of him, to remember people.

BW: His sister was ambassador to Ireland during the period that you were there?

MP: Yes, Jean [Kennedy Smith].

BW: Did she have any role to play?

MP: Oh, yes, she would have been in frequent contact with Sinn Fein; at least that was her reputation. And we were invited to the ambassador’s residence, as were all the loyalists, right, for different events.

DP: I remember some friction, sort of internal State Department friction about territoriality, Ambassador Kennedy Smith would undertake things in Northern Ireland that technically she shouldn’t have been doing, that were the problems of the ambassador to the U.K., but politics are politics.

BW: And during this period, was Warren Christopher secretary?

MP: [p/o]

DP: [p/o]

MP: [p/o]

DP: Madeleine Albright came in in ‘97, so some of the time, so she was secretary of state much of the time, I think. There was a bit of a boomlet speculation that Senator Mitchell might be Christopher’s successor, but it turned out to be Albright.

MP: Good memory, David.

BW: Was there any change in State behavior with regards to the Irish issue, when Albright replaced Christopher?

DP: Our contact was with Kathy Stephens, and Kathy was steady as a rock, we had next to no contact with the Washington version of the State Department, which is the way it should be.

BW: So are we done?

MP: I think so, unless you have more questions.

BW: No, I think I’ve come to the end of my list, so thank you both very much.

End of Interview

 
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Interview with Martha Pope and David Pozorski by Brien Williams

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