Monday 28 July 2014

America's top diplomat always has time for Irish

TG Gavin

Published 01/01/2013|05:00

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In the first week of December, tensions were running high in Belfast. Die-hard loyalists were once more a menacing presence on the streets and the Real IRA were also determined to prove they haven't gone away.

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But one thing all sides could agree on, however, was that Hillary Clinton was a class act.

In one of her last engagements before handing over the baton as US secretary of state, she was in the North, telling all sides that they had come a long way and not to throw precious gains away in pursuit of hollow victories.

At a banquet in her honour, First Minister Peter Robinson said: "There is a small corner in the European continent where there are a people who will be forever grateful to you."

Not to be outdone, his deputy Martin McGuinness declared: "I don't believe there would've been a peace process were it not for Bill and Hillary Clinton."

Typically self-effacing, she made light of all the fuss, joking, "I feel like I'm at my own wake".

Yet it was typical of the woman not to be distracted by the bonhomie – she was prepared to show a flash of steel, despite the good humour.

"We have to do more to get out of the ballrooms, out of Stormont, into the communities where people live, where there yet is not that sense of lasting hope and optimism," Ms Clinton told those gathered.

Irish Independent

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