Friday 9 December 2016

Clinton visit: It was very different to 1995, and so it should be

Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30

Former US President Bill Clinton greets wellwishers after he paid tribute to former SDLP leader John Hume at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Former US President Bill Clinton greets wellwishers after he paid tribute to former SDLP leader John Hume at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Pat and John Hume with Bill Clinton on Derry’s Peace Bridge yesterday. Simon Graham/Harrisons
Former SDLP leader John Hume gestures during a performance of Danny Boy after former US President Bill Clinton paid tribute to the peace maker at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Bill Clinton and John Hume among the crowd in Guildhall Square in Derry city yesterday
Former US President Bill Clinton with former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat as they walk along Peace Bridge in Derry. PA
Former US President Bill Clinton with former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat as they walk along Peace Bridge in Derry city centre. PA
Former US President Bill Clinton with former SDLP leader John Hume and his wife Pat. PA
Former US President Bill Clinton makes a speech paying tribute to former SDLP leader John Hume at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Bill Clinton with John Hume and his wife Pat. PA
Former US President Bill Clinton with musician Phil Coulter at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Bill Clinton pays tribute to former SDLP leader John Hume at the Guildhall in Derry. PA
Former US president Bill Clinton delivers the inaugural William J. Clinton Leadership Lecture at Queen's University Belfast. PA
(Left - right) Chairman of the Queen's University of Belfast Foundation Tom Lynch, Head of Ulster Bank Northern Ireland Ellvena Graham, Queen's University Belfast President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston, former US president Bill Clinton, Director of the Leadership Institute Anne Clydesdale and Registrar and Chief Operating Officer James O'Kane at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall, Belfast. PA

The kids who arrived were all born in the years since the bombs and guns fell silent. Young mothers pushing buggies who were children themselves when the 42nd president of the United States first visited their city in 1995 streamed in, and then there was an older generation for whom the Troubles still seems like only yesterday.

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It was a dull, damp day, with a biting wind skating across the River Foyle and around the nooks of Guildhall Square. But the crowds came regardless.

The visit by Bill and Hillary Clinton to Derry almost 20 years ago had conjured up a bit of magic in a place which has seen more hard rain than stardust fall on its streets. It was a chilly Thursday afternoon in November 1995 when America's First Couple arrived in a cavalcade of black limousines to a tumult of American flags and a rapturous reception from 25,000 people crammed into in the square

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