Economics driving Northern Ireland peace process
James M. Lyons
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Institute for International Business and
Global Executive Forum
Center for International Business Education & Research
James M. Lyons is the senior trial partner at the Denver law firm of Rothgerber Johnson and Lyons LLP,
where his practice includes international trade and business development. In 1993 Lyons was appointed
by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. Observer to the International Fund for Ireland. In 1997, Lyons
was tapped by the president to succeed Senator George Mitchell as Special Advisor to the President and
Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland. Lyons is listed in "Best Lawyers in America
(Business Litigation), and has received numerous honors for his public service. A Fellow of the Colorado
Bar Foundation, he holds a law degree from DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.
Peace has traveled a hard road in Ireland, arriving at this point in time after more than 400 years of
detours and often treacherous conditions. "Ireland's history is a complicated one," said Jim Lyons. "It
speaks in blood, and speaks in violence and is not susceptible to anybody's solutions, let alone one from
While the problem appears to be religious in nature - Catholic vs.
Protestant - it is actually a civil rights issue, said Lyons. "It is in my mind
a struggle toward the elimination of discrimination and the guarantee of
key elements that anybody wants - a job, education, house, future and
safety of the streets."
Lyons' initial role in the peace process was not to focus on class
struggles - the Irish people have to solve that problem themselves - but
to deal with the "underlying economic problems" caused by those
struggles. His major tool was the International Fund for Ireland.
"The president recognized that this was a vehicle which could be used
effectively by us to promote prosperity and reconciliation," said