Hillary’s Foreign Policy Experience? Irish Say “Not in Ireland”.

Finally some examination and some information about this vast experience Hillary Clinton claims – like helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland:

Hillary Clinton had no direct role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland and is a “wee bit silly” for exaggerating the part she played, according to Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of the province.

But to hear Hillary Clinton, she was right in the middle of it:

“I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” she told CNN on Wednesday.

However, the real players disagree:

But negotiators from the parties that helped broker the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 told The Daily Telegraph that her role was peripheral and that she played no part in the gruelling political talks over the years.

Said Lord Trimble:

“I don’t know there was much she did apart from accompanying Bill [Clinton] going around,” he said. Her recent statements about being deeply involved were merely “the sort of thing people put in their canvassing leaflets” during elections. “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.”

Central to Clinton’s claim is a 50 minute pre-arranged meeting which she describes thusly:

“I remember a meeting that I pulled together in Belfast, in the town hall there, bringing together for the first time Catholics and Protestants from both traditions, having them sitting a room where they had never been before with each other because they don’t go to school together, they don’t live together and it was only in large measure because I really asked them to come that they were there.

“And I wasn’t sure it was going to be very successful and finally a Catholic woman on one side of the table said, ‘You know, every time my husband leaves for work in the morning I worry he won’t come home at night.

“And then a Protestant woman on the other side said, ‘Every time my son tries to go out at night I worry he won’t come home again’. And suddenly instead of seeing each other as caricatures and stereotypes they saw each other as human beings and the slow, hard work of peace-making could move forward.”

The Belfast Telegraph, however, remembers it slightly differently. There is no record of a meeting in the Belfast Town Hall, but there is a mention of a meeting at the Lamp Lighter Café on the city’s Ormeau Road:

The “Belfast Telegraph” reported the next day that the café meeting was crammed with reporters, cameramen and Secret Service agents. Conversation “seemed a little bit stilted, a little prepared at times” and Mrs Clinton admired a stainless steel tea pot, which was duly given to her, for keeping the brew “so nice and hot”.

Among those attending were women from groups representing single parents, relationship counsellors, youth workers and a cultural society.

And, as the Telegraph article points out, when Clinton previously wrote about this meeting in her autobiography, she attached no real significance to it. Said Conall McDevitt, an SDLP negotiator and aide to Mr Hume during the talks:

“I’ve always had a theory that these people were already well networked. Maybe they needed a bit of bringing together and she [Mrs Clinton] was an ideal focus point.” Once a peace deal was in place, Mrs Clinton supported women politicians and was always available if they visited Washington “to give them a pat on the back, give them moral support”, he added.

McDevitt also added:

“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.”

So much for that claim then. The question now becomes, how will the Obama campaign use this information? I’m sure it is already sitting in the opo research data for the Republicans.


First published at QandO

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