She ruffled the feathers, broke the rules and dismissed the diplomatic intricacies. She was reprimanded by Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher for dismissing two senior officials who did not agree with her views. She visited Northern Ireland, a British province and not its territory, and met Gerry Adams, the head of the political wing of the IRA, Sinn Fein, on several occasions, although American policy forbade it then. .
While many officials in London and the US State Department believed that she was beyond her authority and considered Mr. Adams to be a terrorist spokesperson, Mrs. Smith helped pave the way for a visa that allowed her to travel to the United States to advocate for a ceasefire and British withdrawal from Ulster.
Almost overnight, he became a popular son of Ireland in America. Six months later, on August 31, 1994, a cease-fire was declared. At the request of Mrs. Smith, Senator Kennedy, and others, Mr. Clinton met with Mr. Adams at the White House in 1995, giving Sinn Fein some respectability.
When the ceasefire fell in 1996 due to Sinn Fein’s continued exclusion from peace talks, Smith summoned Joe Cahill, I.R.A. chief, and berated him. Sinn Fein was finally admitted to talks and the ceasefire was restored in 1997. Negotiations by former Senator George J. Mitchell produced the Belfast Accord in April 1998.
He foresaw the disarmament of paramilitary groups and the sharing of power in Northern Ireland. A month later, it was approved in referendums in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The years that followed were marked by shootings, political disruption, disarmament conflicts and other surges. But the Belfast Pact is still seen as the official document for gradually eliminating decades of sectarian warfare in Ulster.
Role of Mrs. Smith – bringing the I.R.A. cold – was important, and she was proud of it.
“The Irish were ready to take me literally, to give me the benefit of the doubt because I was Kennedy,” she said in 1998 as she prepared to end her posting to Dublin. “I was really a cog in the moving machine. I was fortunate to be here to perhaps give new impetus to what was going on. “