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Hume and Trimble 'put their lives on line for deal'

[Press center5] time:2023-06-02 03:26:36 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center7 click:40order

Former US president Bill Clinton has paid tribute to John Hume and David Trimble as men "who put their lives and careers on the line" for peace.

Mr Clinton was speaking at an event in Londonderry's Guildhall marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Hume and Mr Trimble both won the Noble Peace Prize for their roles in delivering the agreement.

Mr Clinton told the Guildhall they had shown "leaps of faith get rewarded".

He said Mr Hume and Mr Trimble "embodied wisdom we all like to believe we share but often, when the chips are down, cannot live by".

"I loved and admired them both, but what they stood for is alive in your lives," he continued. "Now you, like them, must decide what to do about it."

Mr Clinton also talked about the fatal shooting of Lyra McKee in the city by dissident republicans in 2019.

He said her life "was a testament to the unlimited potential of the people of Northern Ireland and especially its rising generation".

"And her death is a reminder that there are few permanent victories in politics or life and if we believe something we need to be willing to stand for it as long as we draw breath."

He added that tragedy "lives in a false belief that our differences matter more than our common humanity".

David Trimble's son Nicholas said President Clinton's comments about his father were personally moving.

"This is a former president, Bill Clinton can go anywhere he likes and he chooses to come here, he chooses to spend his time with us and he chooses to say those things and I think that means something, it certainly meant something to me," he told BBC's Good Morning Ulster.

Earlier, Mr Clinton said he was optimistic that the Stormont institutions can be restored.

He said he expected the barriers to re-establishing the executive would be removed in the "not too distant future".

Speaking to BBC News NI, he said he felt optimistic after meeting DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson on Monday.

Power-sharing in Northern Ireland collapsed in February 2022 after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) pulled out of the institutions in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The party said the deal weakened Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom.

Mr Clinton met Sir Jeffrey in Belfast where a three-day conference to mark the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement has been taking place.

"I left that meeting [with Sir Jeffrey] more optimistic than I entered it," he said.

"But I don't think I should talk about what we talked about because I'm not in government for the United States, or for Northern Ireland, or the Irish Republic, or the UK.

"I'm here as a friend of the peace process and a friend of hope."

Bill Clinton made history as the first sitting US president to visit Northern Ireland on 30 November 1995.

Accompanied by First Lady Hillary Clinton, the president switched on the Christmas lights in Belfast but the most memorable moment was perhaps his speech in Guildhall Square in Derry.

A huge crowd heard him urge young people to believe the future can be better than the past.

The Clintons have been long-time supporters of the Northern Ireland peace process and have made several high-profile visits in both official and personal capacities.

While in office, from 1993 to 2001, he visited three times.

Mr Clinton said Brexit and the trading arrangement that followed had thrown a "clinker" into Northern Ireland's politics.

"Finding a political solution to that - it's taken some doing. I think they're pretty close with this Windsor Agreement," he added.

"So I expect that, in the not too distant future, the barriers to bringing up the government again will be removed because everybody knows that economically, socially and politically, they would be worse off if they packed it in over the current level of disagreement."

You can see more of the interview with Bill Clinton on The View on BBC One Northern Ireland at 22:40 BST on Thursday.

(editor-in-charge:Press center4)

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