Hillary Clinton delivers speech in Northern Ireland to mark 25th anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

 April 18, 2023

President Joe Biden just returned from a trip to Northern Ireland only to be followed there by one of his predecessors, former President Bill Clinton, and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As was the case with Biden, the Clintons are in Northern Ireland's Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that was brokered in 1998 to end decades of sectarian conflict, but this was far from their first visit to that nation, according to the BBC.

In fact, both of the Clintons have made several joint and solo trips to Northern Ireland over the years and have been honored for the roles they played in bringing and maintaining peace in the troubled and restive region.

An agreement to end the Troubles

Per the BBC, then-President Clinton and the first lady made their first visit to Northern Ireland in 1995 to call for an end to decades of sectarian violence there that was known as the Troubles.

The Troubles began in 1968 when the predominately Catholic "nationalists" began to fight back against the discriminatory and oppressive rule of the predominately Protestant and British-backed "loyalists," and the conflict that featured violent riots, revenge killings, car bombings, and armed clashes continued until 1998.

The Clintons returned again to Northern Ireland in 1998 following a particularly deadly bombing, at which point the so-called Good Friday Agreement was brokered to end the ongoing violence with a power-sharing arrangement.

The then-first lady came back again in 1999 to check on the progress of that agreement, as did the outgoing president in 2000 as part of a "farewell tour," in which he touted the agreement as one of his accomplishments that he was most proud of.

Honored for their roles in the peace agreement

The BBC reported that former President Clinton in 2001 was granted an honorary law degree from Queen's University in Belfast in recognition of his efforts to bring peace to the small nation within the United Kingdom. In 2014, he opened the Clinton Leadership Institute at the school and has made many more visits to Belfast and other Northern Ireland cities since leaving the presidency.

Likewise, former Secretary of State Clinton made several visits to Northern Ireland, both in an official capacity and otherwise, and was similarly granted an honorary degree from the same university in 2018.

Queens University Belfast took its honor of Hillary Clinton one step further in 2021, however, when it named her as its first female chancellor, a position from which she performs her duties in the occasional ceremonial, ambassadorial, or advisory roles.

Hillary speaks on the Troubles and current partisan divisions

According to The Irish News, Hillary Clinton delivered remarks this week at the university during a three-day event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement brokered by her former presidential husband and related the end of the Troubles with Northern Ireland's current issues related to the Brexit agreement and trade disputes with the U.K. and European Union.

That dispute has resulted in a breakdown of the power-sharing agreement and virtual paralysis of Northern Ireland's political leaders. In her speech, Clinton said, "I encourage everyone now to move forward with the same spirit of unstoppable grit and resolve that brought the peace 25 years ago."

"Because while the Good Friday Agreement is an enormous achievement, we know that peace, prosperity, and progress -- that so many have worked tirelessly to achieve -- remains incomplete," she continued. "The work of integration in housing and schools is far from finished. Neighborhoods remain divided. Poverty and unemployment persist. The difficulties of the past continue to threaten the present."

"The ongoing struggle to finish the Good Friday Agreement and claim its full promise is a reminder of one of the things I try to remember in my life when I’ve been really high or really low -- there are no final victories or defeats in life," Clinton added. "The most important thing is to fight the right fight and to keep doing it the best you can for as long as you can."

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