Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 14:16 UK

The Clintons and Northern Ireland

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton has visited Northern Ireland a number of times

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is planning to visit Northern Ireland. BBC News looks back at the relationship between the Clintons and Northern Ireland.

"Clinton set to visit Northern Ireland" could be a headline plucked from the archives of the history of the peace process.

But this planned visit is in 2009 and is not by former president Bill Clinton but by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

The trip was announced by NI Secretary Shaun Woodward during his speech to the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Mr Woodward said Mrs Clinton wanted to come to "help look at the jobs, opportunities and investment that America can bring to Northern Ireland".

The news is an indication of a continuing Clinton relationship with Northern Ireland.

That relationship stretches back to 1995 when President Bill Clinton received a rapturous welcome on his first trip, the first serving US president to visit Northern Ireland.

That trip was a sign of a commitment to the Northern Ireland political process.

President Clinton with Seamus Mallon, left, and David Trimble in 2000
President Clinton with Seamus Mallon, left, and David Trimble in 2000

During his White House campaign in 1992, the then Governor Clinton of Arkansas made a pledge to send a peace envoy.

In 1994, he appointed former US senator George Mitchell to the role, who went on to play a pivotal role in advancing the peace process.

He chaired the talks which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.

President Clinton's first visit to Northern Ireland came in November 1995, 15 months after the IRA announced its first cease-fire.

He was accompanied on that and further trips by his wife Hillary Clinton.

After famously shaking hands with Gerry Adams on Belfast's Falls Road, he went on to receive a rapturous reception when he turned on the Christmas tree lights in Belfast city centre.

Mr Clinton's second visit was in 1998 and followed the dissident republican bombing of Omagh. The 1998 Real IRA attack killed 29 people and two unborn babies.

He appeared visibly moved following a meeting with some of those who survived the bombing - but stressed to all of Northern Ireland that it was "up to you" to find the solutions.

In 2000, President Clinton took centre stage again during a final trip as president, visiting Belfast and Dublin.

But the legacy of the Clinton relationship with Northern Ireland is set to continue with the news of the planned visit by Mrs Clinton.

This visit is not as the wife of the president but is being undertaken in her role as US secretary of state.

It will be set against the backdrop of a different Northern Ireland than the one that greeted the Clintons in 1995.

The spotlight is on the economy. In September, Mrs Clinton appointed a business advisor as her government's economic envoy to Northern Ireland.



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