Clinton’s Role in Northern Ireland Peace Progress

24 Feb

The problems between Ireland and Northern Ireland are well known by many. They are what people refer to as the “troubles”. Talks of trying to generate peace had been going on since the 1980’s. Gerry Adams, the head of the Sinn Fein party, was a key player in these talks to come up with a peace plan. What many people, myself included, do not know is that the US President Clinton also played a part in trying to bring peace to Northern Ireland. While on the tour in Derry the tour guide mentioned how much Northern Ireland liked President Clinton because of his help to create peace during the troubles. This shocked me because I had never heard of Clinton helping Ireland, and many people from the United States do not like Clinton because of his shady history. So I decided to look into what he had done to help Northern Ireland.

In the year of 1994 Clinton sanctioned a visa for Gerry Adams to enter the United States for fortyeight hours. At the time this was largely controversial. Britain opposed the trip which was a big deal because they were one of the United States big allies and to go against them politically like that was risky. However, that is exactly what Bill Clinton did in hopes that by letting Gerry Adams speak at a New York conference it would lead to peace and ultimately an IRA ceasefire. Mr. Adams view on the Northern Ireland situation was clear that he wanted to end violence and embrace a joint declaration. Even though I do believe Gerry Adam’s views and talks in the United States helped take a positive step toward peace Britain was outraged by the fact Mr. Adams was granted access in the U.S.

Not to be discouraged Bill Clinton continued to help with the peace progress and made his first visit in November of 1995. This was fifteen months after the IRA announced the first ceasefire. It was during this visit that he spoke to a huge rally in Belfast at the City Hall. His speech was geared towards his favor of the “peace progress” and it themed along the lines of him calling terrorists yesterday’s men and looking towards a brighter future. Clinton also made a second visit after the republican bombing of Omagh. He made a speech to touch the people saying, “The spirit of reconciliation must be rooted in all you do.” His goal was to inspire each individual to live peace and make peace happen in his “up to you” way of finding a solution. Clinton was also involved in the 1998 talks via phone conversations with the key players from the oval office.

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