The Clintons: a couple who have energised the peace process

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BILL and Hillary Clinton have been credited with playing a key role in helping Northern Ireland’s divided communities make major strides towards peace.

Their role in the process started in 1992, when then Governor Clinton of Arkansas made a pledge to send a peace envoy, something for which the majority of the politically influential Irish-American lobby had long hoped.

Shortly after the start of the 1994 ceasefire, President Clinton angered unionists by granting a US visa to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams.

The Clintons’ first visit came in November 1995, 15 months after the IRA announced a ceasefire. They were greeted by tens of thousands of people lining the streets.

President Clinton controversially shook hands with Mr Adams on Belfast’s Falls Road – a Catholic and nationalist stronghold.

The Clintons visited again in 1998, following the dissident Republican bombing of Omagh, and in 2000 as they prepared to leave the White House. The three visits were more than any other serving US president has undertaken.