b"Rachel Bill, heres a big picture question: Why Ireland? Why is it important for members of the Irish diaspora to continue to have that relationship with Ireland and Northern Ireland? People can focus their philanthropy in so many places. BillIn some respects, this is a watershed moment in Irish history. Brexit is creating a lot of uncertainty in the Republic and Northern Ireland. I also think its creating a lot of opportunity for both countries, but the important thing is that you dont go backwards to the Troubles, and I believe the diaspora can help by staying engaged and supporting causes for which they have some passion. RachelWhatwasitlikeforyoutobeatTheIrelandFundsWorldwide2019: Bill McKiernan addresses Conference in Belfast last June? Did it feel like people connected with whats going onThe Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition.in Northern Ireland?BillYes. It was great to be back in Belfast. Ive had some experiences over the years in Northern Ireland and going back this year for the Conference showed us the vibrancy of the Belfast community. The evidence of that is everywhere, the construction, the energy in the streets. Its really gratifying to see that. But as I said, were in a moment in history where a lot of things are going to change, and so its important that we continue that momentum.Rachel Would you say its a vibrancy and a fragility? BillYes. That fragility is there and unfortunately it creates a sort of a vacuum. We know what happened with that vacuum during the Troubles. It's re-ally important that we help continue the positive momentum of the last 20 years. Rachel What do you see the role of The Ireland Funds being as we go forward? BillI think in terms of The Ireland Funds, that just being in Belfast this2015: Bill McKiernan with winners from Ivea Labs: past June was a positive thing. I think also staying involved is key. We saw severalAndrew Boyd, Victoria Potts, Adam Whiteside, projects while we were there that encourage reconciliation and peace. I went to see PeacePlayers. Its a grassroots effort to encourage positive interactions betweenAlex Caskey and Neil OHerlihy of Google.communities. Another donor at the Conference had an opportunity to see the Derry Playhouse. They told me it was one of the most emotional days they have ever had. Its those kinds of efforts at a grassroots level that can produce positive change.Rachel The Ireland Funds do persist. Its been an unrelenting commitment to every single generation to show them that were still going to be there, and were going to keep supporting initiatives that build cross-community strength.BillIts not unlike what I describe to entrepreneurs. Theyll often ask, whats the thing you did to finally make the business successful? Its no single thing. Its like pushing a flywheel, and you just keep pushing the flywheel until eventually the flywheel gets momentum and sustains itself.Rachel Thats a great metaphor.BillThats true in business. Its true in the peace process. You just keep doing lots of little things that eventually result in the momentum swinging in the right direction.2018: Bill McKiernan with winners Shona D'Arcy and Celine de Looze of Kids Speech Labs.connect 201954"