Thursday 8 December 2016

A new love affair with the old sod

Published 20/03/2010 | 05:00

Hillary Clinton looked out over the large assembly of guests, including the man she described as her 'escort', former president Bill who was sitting opposite the Taoiseach at the American Ireland Fund dinner in the heart of Washington DC and nailed her colours of green, white and orange firmly to the mast.

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"We know Ireland has been hard-hit. But we want the Irish to know across the entire island that we stand with you. The United States has a bond and a commitment. And during these tough times, we will be there to help you," she declared.

Granted, it was the eve of St Patrick's Day and she was the guest of honour at the gala event, but the US Secretary of State wasn't just being polite. The affection that she and her 'escort' hold for Ireland is genuine and deeply felt. It was forged during the painstaking construction of the Good Friday Agreement and cemented on the packed, cheering streets of Dublin and Belfast during the president's visit in 1995. The Clintons have been good to Ireland -- and Ireland has been good to them too, as the successful conclusion of the agreement provided Bill Clinton with a serious foreign policy feather in the cap of an often-controversial presidency.

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