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Wednesday 22 March 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# Political nostalgia
Bill Clinton turned on the Belfast Christmas lights 19 years ago today
“Peace has brought real change to your lives.”

Macmillan Media / YouTube

ON THIS DAY 19 years ago, Bill Clinton switched on the Christmas lights in Belfast.

The then President of the United States and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton visited both sides of the community during their trip.

A huge crowd gathered to watch him and local children light up the Christmas tree – which had been shipped in from Nashville, Tennesse – from behind a bulletproof screen.

During his speech, Clinton spoke of the impact of the IRA ceasefire in the North, which took place the year before.

As I look down these beautiful streets, I think how wonderful it will be for people to do their holiday shopping without worries of searches or bombs, to visit loved ones on the other side of the border without the burden of check points or road blocks, to enjoy these magnificent Christmas lights without any fear of violence. Peace has brought real change to your lives.

Clinton also pledged America’s support in the peace process, stating:

We will stand with you as you take risks for peace.

Clinton Sea of hands PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

In the 2013 BBC Radio Ulster documentary Christmas with the Clintons, a senior aide said the former president regarded his involvement in the Good Friday peace agreement, which was signed in 1998, as probably his “top foreign policy achievement“.

During a trip to Belfast earlier this year, Clinton urged political parties in the North to “finish the job” and resolve outstanding issues surrounding flags and marches following the unsuccessful conclusion of talks led by former US diplomat Richard Haass at the end of 2013.

Haass talks in Belfast end without agreement

Bill Clinton set for Belfast visit in March

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