Nancy Pelosi warns of threats facing democracy, including Russia and China, at Dublin event

Former House speaker awarded Fulbright Ireland’s inaugural Public Service Award at US ambassador’s residence

Former speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi warned of the various threats facing democracy, including autocratic governments in Russia and China, at an event in Dublin.

“Right now, in a big picture, we’re in a competition between autocracy and democracy, and I have no doubt that that fight is on,” she said. “It take many manifestations: some of it, [Vladimir] Putin just using brutal force, going in [to Ukraine]. Some of it, commercial, to buy its way in – China.”

She said that pillars of US democracy were also at risk – including free and fair elections, and the independence of the judiciary. “Right now, democracy is at stake,” she added.

Ms Pelosi made the comments on Sunday evening at Deerfield Residence, the US ambassador to Ireland’s address in the Phoenix Park, where she was awarded Fulbright Ireland’s inaugural Public Service Award. The Fulbright Commission is an academic exchange initiative, facilitating Irish citizens in studying, lecturing or researching at American institutions, and the same for American citizens in Ireland.


In discussion with Claire Cronin, the US ambassador to Ireland, Ms Pelosi spoke approvingly of the US House of Representatives’ passing of a long-delayed bill on Saturday, giving the green light to billions of dollars of military aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

“We had a success yesterday,” she said. Ms Pelosi characterised the passing of the “urgent” and “necessary” bill as a move towards protecting democracy, and praised Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Ms Pelosi did not directly reference the $26.4 billion in military aid for Israel that was also included in the package passed by congress on Saturday. Some $9 billion of that allocation will go towards humanitarian aid in Gaza.

The discussion was attended by former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, as well as Ms Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi.

Ms Pelosi also shared anecdotes from her long career in politics, describing her relationship with various presidents. She said that Bill Clinton “doesn’t get the credit he deserves” for his work in the White House, and described Barack Obama as “spectacular”.

She described a good relationship with George W Bush, albeit noting that she had strong disagreements with him regarding the US’s war in Iraq.

She praised US president Joe Biden, highlighting his “empathy” for working families, and vast experience in politics.

Ms Pelosi made several references to former US president Donald J Trump without naming him, at one point stating: “There are some people who should never be allowed anywhere near the White House.”

Before her engagement at the ambassador’s house, Ms Pelosi spent time with President Michael D Higgins at Arás an Uachtaráin on Sunday afternoon.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist