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The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"Bill Clinton loves Ireland because Ireland loves Bill Clinton"
 real 28k

George Caudill of the ex-president's staff:
"There is a lot of security planned for Derry because Clinton still likes to press the flesh"
 real 28k

Gala dinner organiser Noel Smyth:
"We have already raised about IR£500,000 for the Reconciliation fund and we have more pledges to call in"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
City visit for Clinton
Bill Clinton pictured in the Guildhall Square
Bill Clinton pictured in the Guildhall Square
Former US president Bill Clinton is in Londonderry at the start of a two-day visit to Northern Ireland.

Mr Clinton met church leaders, politicians and members of the business community before making a public address in the city centre.

Thousands of people were in Derry's Guildhall Square for Mr Clinton's largest public address in Northern Ireland during this visit.

He was welcomed by the Sinn Fein mayor of the city Cathal Crumley.

During his speech, Mr Clinton said the peace process had come a long way since he first came to Northern Ireland in 1995.

He said: "I came here to reaffirm my belief that the Good Friday Accord, which the people of Northern Ireland and the people of the Irish Republic voted for, is still the right path for the future."

Bill Clinton greets those who came to hear his speech
Bill Clinton greets those who came to hear his speech
Earlier, socialist protesters threw eggs at Mr Clinton as he visited the University of Ulster's Magee campus.

During his visit to the Magee campus, Mr Clinton met the leaders of the four main churches.

The Church of Ireland Bishop James Mehaffey said the former president had made a tremendous contribution to Northern Ireland.

Mr Clinton was accompanied by his daughter Chelsea on his visit to the city.

Later, he attended a private dinner hosted by the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce.

Bomb site peace centre

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that a peace centre is to be built in honour of Mr Clinton in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

Eleven people died in the Enniskillen bomb
Eleven people died in the Enniskillen bomb
The William Jefferson Clinton International Peace Centre is to be based at the Higher Bridges project building on the site of the 1987 IRA Remembrance Day bomb.

The centre will focus on peace-building in Ireland and overseas and will cement a long-term relationship between Mr Clinton and the province.

It is hoped the centre will also stimulate social and economic regeneration in Fermanagh.

Mr Clinton is to meet relatives of the 11 people killed and some of those injured in the Enniskillen bomb, when he travels to the town as part of his itinerary on Thursday.

He will also meet Fermanagh district councillors, church representatives and members of the Fermanagh University Partnership Board and unveil a window inscription for the peace centre.

Reconciliation fund

On Tuesday evening the ex-president addressed a gala centre in Dublin.

He was joined at the event by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who announced that his government is to establish a centre for American studies in honour of Mr Clinton.

Mr Ahern said the Irish government would contribute IR£2.5m towards the cost of building the centre and a further IR£200,000 in annual running costs.

Senator George Mitchell: Clinton will encourage people to move forward
Ex-senator George Mitchell attended the dinner
Guests at Tuesday's gala dinner, which also included former US envoy to the province, ex-senator George Mitchell, were believed to have paid up to IR£10,000 for their seats at Dublin Castle.

The event has raised about IR£700,000 for the Northern Ireland Fund for Reconciliation.

Prominent Irish businessman Noel Smyth, head of the event's organising committee, said it was a "wonderful opportunity to honour Mr Clinton for his enormous contribution to fostering peace in Ireland".

The reconciliation fund was established two years ago by Mr Mitchell, together with the leaders of the political parties which supported the Good Friday Agreement.

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See also:

11 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Clinton: His role in Northern Ireland
22 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Clinton honoured at gala dinner
23 May 01 | Northern Ireland
The Clinton visit: Itinerary
21 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Row over Clinton's Derry visit
03 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
High hopes for Clinton visit
05 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Clinton to get NI peace honour
30 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Clinton may get new peacemaker role
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