The former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the decision of her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, to give Gerry Adams a visa to travel to the United States was a breakthrough point in the peace process.

She was speaking as she was inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York today.

Speaking of the current breakdown in the talks over welfare in the Northern Assembly, Mrs Clinton said it was better to have people arguing over governmental issues rather than walking away and thinking conflict was the only answer.

She said that there was still work to be done but that peace and security did not come just by signing an agreement.

She was speaking at a sold-out luncheon event at the JW Marriott hotel beside Central Park, attended by around 300 people.

Mr Adams, who was present at the event, congratulated Ms Clinton on her induction.

Many were clearly Clinton supporters as they swarmed for handshakes and photographs after her speech.

The Irish America Hall of Fame is located In Dunbrody, New Ross, Co Wexford at the ancestral home of US President John F Kennedy.

The event had been scheduled to be broadcast live by CNN and Reuters and was attended by a large number of domestic US journalists who have already assigned to cover everything that Mrs Clinton does in anticipation of the announcement of her intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination.

She was gifted a small Aran jumper with a shamrock design for her granddaughter Charlotte, and said that becoming a grandmother had been "an important reminder about what you should spend your time thinking about and doing".

She said that her goal was to provide opportunities and prosperity not only to her grandchild but to everyone else’s as well.

She said she was "glowing" when she remembered the role that the Irish-American community and diaspora had played in bringing the Troubles to an end.

But she said that there was still work to be done, but there was a crucial lesson to be learned that peace and security could not be brought just by signing an agreement.

She said that most peace agreements did not last but when women were involved there was a much better chance that the agreement would hold.

Mrs Clinton said it was "such a personal pleasure" to attend the luncheon and thanked everyone for the "singular honour" of the award which was not something that she could have attained by birth but was receiving by virtue of the work she had done in Northern Ireland.

She said she was accepting the honour on behalf of all the remarkable women that she had met and admired in Northern Ireland.