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Sunday, 27 May, 2001, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Clinton 'optimistic' about peace in NI
The former president was welcomed  by crowds in Omagh
The crowds came out to welcome Mr Clinton back to NI
The former American president, Bill Clinton has said he is optimistic about the prospects for peace in Northern Ireland.

Mr Clinton was speaking at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival in Wales where he delivered a wide ranging speech on conflict resolution.

He said he believed prosperity would be an important factor in ending divisions in the province.

However, he said he was not as optimistic about the prospects for peace in the Middle East.


Prosperity will be an important factor in ending divisions

Bill Clinton

"The Middle East is not like that (Northern Ireland)," he said.

"It will not get fixed until somebody and all parties make some really difficult decisions and take a chance on each other."

Mr Clinton is in Britain following a five-day visit to Ireland which included two days of engagements in Northern Ireland.

While in Belfast, he received an honorary degree from Queen's University for his commitment to the peace process.

'Everyone deserves a chance'

Former US senator George Mitchell, who is chancellor of the university, conferred Mr Clinton with the degree.

Accepting the honour, Mr Clinton said the 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace accord, was a remarkable achievement.

"It recognises that all people who live here count. That everyone deserves a chance, that everyone deserves to be heard.

"That everyone will do better when we help each other."

Mr Clinton also met with people injured and bereaved in the Omagh and Enniskillen bombings.

Chelsea Clinton travelled to Enniskillen
Chelsea Clinton accompanied her father

On a visit to Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, the former president unveiled a plaque on the site of the 1987 Remembrance Day bomb.

A peace centre is to be built in honour of Mr Clinton in Enniskillen.

The William Jefferson Clinton International Peace Centre is to be based at the Higher Bridges project building on the site of the IRA bombing.

Eleven people were killed in Enniskillen and 29 people died in the Omagh bombing in August 1998.

The new 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 also visited Londonderry where he addressed a large crowd in the city's Guildhall Square.

Mr Clinton, is being accompanied by daughter Chelsea throughout his visit to Ireland and Britain.

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See also:

24 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Picture gallery: The Clinton visit
23 May 01 | Northern Ireland
NI honours for Clinton
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
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