Hillary Clinton is ‘worried’ about threats to North’s peace progress

Former US presidential candidate expresses concerns in interview on Friday’s ‘Late Late Show’

In an interview due to be broadcast on RTÉ’s ‘Late Late Show’ on Friday, Hillary Clinton said she does not want to see peace process progress in Northern Ireland ‘lost’. File photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

In an interview due to be broadcast on RTÉ’s ‘Late Late Show’ on Friday, Hillary Clinton said she does not want to see peace process progress in Northern Ireland ‘lost’. File photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

Former US secretary of state and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she is “worried” that progress made in Northern Ireland may be lost with nationalists and unionists at “loggerheads”.

In an interview due to be broadcast on RTÉ’s Late Late Show on Friday, Ms Clinton said she does not want to see peace process progress “lost”.

Her husband, former US president Bill Clinton, is thought to regard the Belfast Agreement as his chief achievement in foreign affairs during his tenure in the White House.

‘Devoted to future’

“Both my husband and I are extraordinarily interested in and devoted to the future of the island,” Ms Clinton will say. “What we have tried to do in both our public and our personal capacities has been to encourage, certainly, the peace process in the North, but also to enjoy the friendships that we have developed.

“It has been an absolute privilege to be in some small way involved in everything that is going on.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney paid a flying visit to the North on Wednesday as talks between the DUP and Sinn Féin aimed at forming a government continue.

He did not take questions from the media on Wednesday afternoon during his brief visit to Stormont, where he held talks with delegations from both parties.

A DUP source described talks this week with Sinn Féin as “intensive” and said while both parties remain in negotiations, there is still the prospect of a deal to get Stormont back up and running following its collapse in January.

“Where there is life there is hope,” the source said.

Special Envoy

Alliance Party deputy leader Stephen Farry and Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill welcomed comments from US congressman Richard Neal indicating US president Donald Trump had assured him the post of US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland should be retained.

Ms O’Neill said she would not be drawn into negotiating in public, so was remaining tight-lipped on where progress might have been made in the ongoing talks with the DUP. However, she said she remains “positive” and engaged with the DUP every day.

“We need to find a way through the issues and the best way to do that is to restore the institutions on a sustainable basis, on the basis of equality and respect, and to make sure the institutions have integrity – so I remain optimistic,” she said.

The UUP criticised the Irish Government following on from their recent engagement. “We didn’t meet with the Irish Government today,” a UUP spokesman said.

“It is near time that they started producing some answers to the questions we have raised about how the Irish Government and its agencies are going to fulfil their commitments to dealing with the past.

‘Less than satisfactory’

“Despite repeatedly raising the subject, so far we have only received less than satisfactory answers. It’s simply not good enough.”

Unionist parties will again be absent from the latest All Island Civic Dialogue.

SDLP Brexit spokeswoman Claire Hanna MLA will address the event at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin on Thursday, when she will reiterate her party’s call to remain in the European customs union and the single market.

She is also expected to call for the establishment of a “border bank” to reprofile funds from the “Loans to Ireland” repayments to the British government into a channel that will support elements of the economy likely to be hardest hit by Brexit.