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Thread: Irish leaders defend Hillary Clinton, "She played major role in peace process"

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Irish leaders defend Hillary Clinton, "She played major role in peace process"

    Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have clashed over the former first lady's record in Northern Ireland, with Mr. Obama's campaign claiming that she has exaggerated her part in the peace process.
    Throughout the campaign, Mrs. Clinton has frequently identified her role in "helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland" as an important element of her foreign policy experience.

    In a memo published yesterday, however, the Obama campaign accused Mrs. Clinton of inflating her role in the North.
    "It is a gross overstatement of the facts for her to claim even partial credit for bringing peace to Northern Ireland," wrote Greg Craig, a former state department official who is backing Mr. Obama.
    "She did travel to Northern Ireland, it is true. First Ladies often travel to places that are a focus of US foreign policy. But at no time did she play any role in the critical negotiations that ultimately produced the peace."

    The North's former first minister, David Trimble, made a similar assertion in the London Daily Telegraph last week, suggesting that Mrs. Clinton did little more than accompany former president Bill Clinton on visits. "She visited when things were happening, saw what was going on, she can certainly say it was part of her experience. I don't want to rain on the thing for her; but being a cheerleader for something is slightly different from being a principal player," he said.

    Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams told The Irish Times that, although he admires all three remaining US presidential candidates and is not endorsing any of them, Mrs. Clinton is justified in claiming a role in the peace process. "David Trimble is reported as saying Senator Hillary Clinton played no part in the Irish peace process. That is not true. Senator Clinton played an important role in the peace process," he said. "I met the senator on many occasions when she was First Lady, and subsequently when she became a senator for New York State. I always found her to be extremely well informed on the issues."

    Former SDLP leader John Hume has also come to Mrs. Clinton's defense, expressing surprise that anyone should doubt the importance of her contribution.

    "I can state from first-hand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland," he said in a statement posted on Mrs. Clinton's website.

    "There is no doubt that the people of Northern Ireland think very positively of Hillary Clinton's support for our peace process, due to her visits to Northern Ireland and her meetings with so many people. In private she made countless calls and contacts, speaking to leaders and opinion makers on all sides, urging them to keep moving forward."

    Mrs. Clinton visited Ireland seven times between 1995 and 2004, both as first lady and as a US senator. The Obama campaign is correct in stating that she played no direct role in the negotiations leading up to the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

    She went beyond the traditional, ceremonial duties of first lady, however, particularly in facilitating the engagement of women in the political process by introducing Vital Voices, an international organisation she founded with former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, to the North.

    Former senator George Mitchell, who chaired the talks leading up to the 1998 agreement, said this week that he believed that Mrs. Clinton's characterisation of her role was generally accurate. "She was helpful and supportive, very much involved in the issues. She knew all of the delegates," he told CBS News.

    "Her greatest focus was on encouraging women in Northern Ireland to get into and stay in the political process and the peace process and as I've said publicly many times and wrote in my book, the role of women in the peace process in Northern Ireland was significant."
    Since becoming a US senator, Mrs. Clinton has visited Ireland twice and is one of the most accessible figures on Capitol Hill for visiting Irish politicians. Her staff liaise regularly with Irish and British diplomats in Washington on Northern Irish issues and maintain contacts with all the parties in the North.

    When they visited Washington last year, First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness met Mrs. Clinton for an hour to discuss economic investment in the North.

    Dr Paisley said he appreciated the sacrifice Mrs. Clinton was making in taking time out of her presidential campaign, which was already intense a few weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

    "We are old hands at electioneering. We know what it takes," Dr Paisley said. "Here you are losing money today by talking to a Ballymena man and a Londonderry man."

    Irish Newspaper Online with News from Ireland & the World - ireland.com



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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    "I can state from first-hand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland," he said in a statement posted on Mrs. Clinton's website.
    If that were true, then why didn't he give Hillary credit for it back when she was First Lady? What? He forget about it for all of these years, and then suddenly remembered it when she claimed she played an important part in the peace process? Gimme a break.

    And considering that Bill is still a popular former president overseas, it wouldn't be hard for him to pick the phone up and ask this guy to do him a favor and inflate Hillary's role.

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