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Nobel Prize Winner Says Clinton's Peace Claims are 'a wee bit silly'

By Susan Duclos     Mar 8, 2008 in Politics
Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, Nobel Prize winner and former First Minister of the province, says that Hillary Clinton's claim that she played a role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland is "a wee bit silly"
He goes on to add, "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."
Hillary Clinton has used Northern Ireland as an example of her "vast" foreign policy experience and told CNN on Wednesday, "I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland."
Negotiators from the Good Friday Agreement, those that helped broker the agreement told The Daily Telegraph that her role was "peripheral" and she had no part in the talks over the years.
The Good Friday Agreement:
The Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement) was reached in Belfast on Friday, April 10 1998.
It sets out a plan for devolved government in Northern Ireland on a stable and inclusive basis and provided for the creation of Human Rights and Equality commissions, the early release of terrorist prisoners, the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons and far reaching reforms of criminal justice and policing.
The Agreement (35 page PDF file) proposed an inter-connected group of institutions from three ‘strands’ of relationships.
Lord Trimble shared the Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume who was the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, in 1998.
Hume's SDLP negotiator and aide, Conall McDevitt, confirms Lord Trimble's assertion that Clinton had nothing to do with the peace agreement by saying, "There would have been no contact with her either in person or on the phone. I was with Hume regularly during calls in the months leading up to the Good Friday Agreement when he was taking calls from the White House and they were invariably coming from the president."
In New Hampshire, in January, Hillary Clinton made other claims as well. She said she pulled together a very important meeting in Belfast, bringing Catholics and Protestants together and teaching them to see each other as human beings instead of opponents.
The problem that The Telegraph reports is that they could find no record of a meeting at Belfast City Hall. What they did find was that Hillary and Bill Clinton attended a ceremony where Bill turned on the Christmas lights in 1995.
What the Telegraph discovered is that Hillary was really talking about a 50-minute event the same day, arranged by the US Consulate, the same day at the Lamp Lighter Café, where women who remember her fondly, did meet.
McDevitt concludes, "So in a classic woman politicky sort of way I think she was active...She was certainly investing some time, no doubt about it. Whether she was involved on the issue side I think probably not."
Lord Trimbles negotiator for the Ulster Unionist Party, Steven King, takes his comments even further, claiming that that Hillary Clinton might have actually delayed the chances for peace, stating, "She was invited along to some pre-arranged meetings but I don’t think she exactly brought anybody together that hadn’t been brought together already." The he adds, "Mrs Clinton was "a cheerleader for the Irish republican side of the argument."
Hillary Clinton's campaign continues to argue that she did perform foreign policy work, ad provides a statement from Hume which disagrees with Trimble, to which he shared that Nobel Peace Prize with, and disagreeing with his own negotiator and aide:
I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland. She visited Northern Ireland, met with very many people and gave very decisive support to the peace process.
"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."
A little less than 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement was made and the key players in negotiating that agreement cannot seem to remember the same events in the same way.
They disagree and we are left wondering if Hillary Clinton did play a part in helping bring about the peace agreement, as she claims, or if she was simply a cheerleader that is a "wee bit silly" for overstating her importance.
Lord Trimble gets the last word, "I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around.", then he adds, referring to Clinton's claims, that they are "the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets" during elections.
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