Collecting the Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2015, Mr Kerry said: “People need to be really careful with downstream consequences. That one choice can have an impact on other aspects and whatever happens to the border, how that border access is managed.
“It’s really critical that it be done very thoughtfully and very sensitively so that it does not have any impact.”
On collecting the Tipperary peace award, Mr Kerry said: “I’m really incredibly touched, moved, very, very grateful.”
Previous winners include Nobel peace prize winners Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon, former president Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, and pop star and humanitarian activist Bob Geldof.
Five groups involved in the anti-war movement in Ireland — Galway Alliance Against War, the Irish Anti-War Movement, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance, Shannonwatch, and Veterans for Peace — criticised the selection of Mr Kerry for a peace award.
Mr Kerry said he was accepting the award on behalf of America, staff in the state department and White House “who labour for peace every single day”.
“And for all those desperate people for whom peace can so often be so elusive and so passionately yearned for,” he said. “They are ultimately our inspiration.”
Meanwhile, newlyweds Maria O’Leary and Paul Shanahan from Tipperary got a surprise when they looked out of their hotel window yesterday morning and saw Mr Kerry waving up at them.
The happy couple, who tied the knot in Bansha on Saturday and held their reception in Aherlow House Hotel outside Tipperary town, shared hotel space yesterday with the US politician and his substantial support and security contingent while Mr Kerry was in the area to receive the Tipperary International Peace Award.
“We had booked the venue about 18 months ago,” said Maria, from Ballyglass near Tipperary, yesterday.
“The staff have been absolutely fantastic here because having the peace prize ceremony and all that security must have been a lot of work for them too.”
Her husband Paul, a garda based in Cahir, described the scenario as “incredible”.
“There was security everywhere when we got up this morning — we were on the balcony when he arrived.”
Maria said she got a special wave and a moment of applause from the US secretary of state. “It was a lovely gesture. We’ll be talking about it for years.”