Former US President Bill Clinton pays tribute to John Hume in Derry
Former US President travelled to North this morning after spending night in Dublin
Published 05/03/2014 | 12:43
FORMER US president Bill Clinton has begun a day long visit to Northern Ireland by crossing a symbolic peace bridge.
The American statesman was accompanied by former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume and his wife Pat as he walked along the foot bridge linking divided communities in Londonderry.
Opened in 2011, the structure is a tangible representation of efforts in Derry to forge better relations between the predominantly unionist Waterside and nationalist City side areas on opposite banks of the River Foyle.
Mr Clinton will later address crowds at the city's Guildhall square - a speech in which he is expected to pay tribute to Mr Hume's key role in the peace process.
On his fifth visit to Derry, Mr Clinton will also help launch a book on peacemaking produced by the University of Ulster. Tonight in Belfast he will officially open a leadership institute named after him at Queen's University.
Before delivering the inaugural William J Clinton leadership lecture at Queen's, he will meet with Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont to discuss current challenges facing the power-sharing institutions.
The 67-year-old was heavily involved in the peace process when he was president, especially in the run-up to the signing of the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
He first visited Belfast in 1995.
Mr Hume said the visit of the former president was an "incredible honour" for his city.
"I have known Bill Clinton for 22 years and I have met him every time I travelled to Washington, and I have always had the greatest admiration for him," he said.
"I am deeply appreciative for all the work he has done to help Northern Ireland, in spite of all the difficulties during his time in the Oval Office.
"Bill Clinton had economic difficulties and international difficulties to deal with during his administration, yet he gave so much time to Northern Ireland and the peace process.
"Pat and I are delighted that Bill Clinton is here in Derry, a town and its people transformed by peace and which we are all so proud of."