Northern Ireland

Hillary Clinton hails role of women in NI peace process

Hillary Clinton Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hillary Rodham Clinton was honoured at an Irish-American event in New York

Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised the role of women in cementing the Northern Ireland peace process.

Speaking in New York at her induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame, she said she was accepting the honour "on behalf of all the remarkable women that I met and admired in Northern Ireland".

She described sitting at a table in Belfast with women from both sides of the conflict and watching as they discovered how much they shared, over cups of tea.

She said that when "the work of peace permeates down to the kitchen table, to the backyard, to the neighbourhood, around cups of tea, there's a much greater chance the agreement will hold".

"You cannot bring peace and security to people just by signing an agreement,'' she said.

"In fact, most peace agreements don't last.''

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hillary Clinton speaks after being inducted into the 2015 Irish America Hall of Fame

Mrs Clinton and her husband President Bill Clinton's first visit to Northern Ireland came in November 1995, 15 months after the IRA announced its first ceasefire.

She is seen as a top contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential election but has not said if she intends to run.

Among those who attended the event, hosted by Irish America magazine, was Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Mrs Clinton referred to her husband's decision to grant Mr Adams a US visa, a move that angered the UK government at the time.

"I remember very well when the request came back in 1993 that my husband approve a visa for Gerry Adams, who is with us today - it was a very difficult decision," she said.

"It seems like an obvious one in retrospect but at the time, much of our own government, certainly other governments, were against such a gesture.

"And I think it is true that absent that first step, that first risk, we might not have had the momentum to move forward to get to the Good Friday accords," she said.

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