Friday 23 March 2018

Bette Browne: Hillary's White House would be a warm place for the Irish

Bette Browne

THEN, as now, Christmas was approaching in 1995 as Hillary Clinton landed in Ireland with her husband. It was a Christmas she would never forget and would have a profound influence on America's top diplomat.

It was an unlikely Christmas in an unlikely place, the kind of Christmas no one ever thought possible. A year after nurturing an IRA ceasefire, President Clinton had come to Belfast City Hall to switch on the Christmas tree lights. "Tonight is a night filled with hope and peace," Hillary Clinton told the crowd, as she introduced her husband. She would never forget the cheering crowd as her husband told them: "We will stand with you as you take risks for peace."

Fourteen years later, when President Barack Obama appointed the first lady-turned-US senator and one-time rival for the presidency as his secretary of state, it was to the Irish peace she looked for inspiration. "I look to Ireland," she said, "to teach us what enduring peace looks like. Not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice."

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