Belfast Telegraph

Hillary Clinton voices fear over Stormont stalemate

By Suzanne Breen

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is worried that political progress made in Northern Ireland may be lost if nationalists and unionists remain at "loggerheads".

Mrs Clinton was speaking as talks between the DUP and Sinn Fein to restore power-sharing continue at Stormont.

If the parties don't reach an agreement next month, Secretary of State James Brokenshire will move to pass a budget for Northern Ireland in Parliament.

In an interview for RTE's Late Late Show, Mrs Clinton expressed concern that nationalist and unionists remain in dispute.

"I am a little worried right now, to be very candid with you," she said.

"I am listening to and hearing reports about the loggerheads people find themselves at.

"There has just been so much progress, I don't want to see it lost."

The former Democratic presidential candidate spoke to RTE presenter Ryan Tubridy near her home in Chappaqua, upstate New York. The interview will be broadcast tomorrow night.

Mrs Clinton visited Belfast, Derry and Dublin in 1995 as First Lady with her husband President Bill Clinton. She was described by former Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as one of the "best friends" Ireland has ever had.

She told RTE of her friendship with Mr McGuinness.

"I had the opportunity to work with Martin and so many others on both sides of the sectarian divide in the North and we forged a personal relationship," she said.

"So when I was a First Lady and a senator, I tried to be supportive in every way I could and when I was Secretary of State I made it a point to continue that support in an official capacity because I didn't want the progress that had been made to be lost," she stated.

Mrs Clinton said that she and her husband remained very committed to helping the peace process succeed.

"Both my husband and I are extraordinarily interested in and devoted to the future of the island," she stated.

"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."

Coming to Ireland was a "big sigh of relief" for the couple, she told RTE, and the memories of their official visits here were "indelible".

She admitted that losing last year's presidential election was "painful" and said the defeat was worse because of who won.

"I would have been really unhappy if I had lost to a normal Republican. But to lose to someone who I believed profoundly was not ready for the job, was temperamentally unqualified for the job, was such a burden," she said.

"I just thought, 'I've just let everybody down, I've let my country down, I've let the world down. How did this happen?'" 

She said that she agreed with former US President George W Bush that Donald Trump's inauguration speech was "some weird s***".

Mrs Clinton also speaks about the danger that she feels President Trump presents to the world, the double standard applied to women in politics, and her future plans.

Mr Tubridy described her as a warm person. "Indeed, there was a Hillary Clinton I wasn't expecting. I was really pleasantly surprised," he added.

Mrs Clinton is promoting the release of her memoirs on the 2016 presidential election, entitled 'What Happened'.

The Late Late Show, Friday, 9.35pm on RTE One

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