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Belfast council votes to award Bill Clinton freedom of the city

The council voted to give the former US president and Senator George Mitchell the award for their part in the peace process.

bill clinton 850_90526827 Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

BELFAST CITY COUNCIL have voted to award former US President Bill Clinton and Senator George Mitchell with the freedom of the city.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the councillor who proposed the award, Tim Attwood said that the honour would be conferred on the men for the part they played in the peace process.

Pending the availability of Clinton and Mitchell, it’s hoped that the award will be given on the 20th anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed on 10 April 1998.

Part played in peace 

While serving as US President, Bill Clinton is often credited as having played a significant role in the delivering the peace accord.

In his pitch to councillors, Attwood described Clinton’s persuasive actions during those tense talks.

He said that at critical times in the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, Clinton “used flattery, persuasion, arm-twisting and midnight phone calls to encourage people over the line and to break deadlocks”.

Because of the prominent role in those talks, Clinton is popular with the public. During Martin McGuinness’ funeral last year, Clinton’s speech was widely praised.

“Who will ever forget the excitement of his first visit to Belfast City Hall in the autumn of 1995?” Attwood told councillors.

The North came to a standstill as we listened to the hopes and ambitions of two primary school kids in Mackies, watch him charm and inspire the excited crowds in City Hall and the Guildhall.

George Mitchell Speaking at IIEA Senator George Mitchell. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Senator George Mitchell is also to be conferred with the award.

Perceived as the honest broker or intermediary between all sides during negotiations, Attwood said that he “won admiration from across the political divide in Northern Ireland for the careful, patient way he chaired the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement”.

He steered the talks process through difficult and challenging time and at some considerable personal cost, away from home at a time of family bereavement and when his wife was pregnant.

“As Seamus Mallon said of George Micthell: ‘His patience, skill and deep humanity eased us through the darkest days and nights and led us quite literally into the morning light of Good Friday’.”

Read: ‘There is important work to be done’: Clinton says politicians should commit to spirit of Good Friday Agreement

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