Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Northern Ireland's political leaders mired in the past: Bill Clinton aide

American foreign policy strategist Nancy Soderberg stands by the Enniskillen cenotaph
American foreign policy strategist Nancy Soderberg stands by the Enniskillen cenotaph

Northern Ireland's political leaders are "far too stuck in the past", a senior aide to former US President Bill Clinton has claimed.

Nancy Soderberg, Mr Clinton's former deputy national security adviser, said politicians here had presided over an "abysmal abdication of leadership."

Writing in the Irish Times ahead of the 20th anniversary of the IRA ceasefire, Ms Soderberg said our political parties were "far too focused on the injustices of the past".

And she challenged unionists and nationalists to "build a Northern Ireland that can compete and thrive in the 21st century".

Ms Soderberg also warned too many people "took peace for granted" and said: "Good leaders would be able to recognise the righteousness of the other side and step forward to compromise and build a prosperous future.

"Good leaders would get past the flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles and work together to attract investment, technology and build the best schools which are no longer segregated. It's time to get beyond the past."

Ms Soderberg also recalled how the late Taoiseach Albert Reynolds notified her in advance of the IRA ceasefire statement issued 20 years ago this month.

Her remarks came on the day that former US senator Gary Hart met representatives of Northern Ireland's parties in Belfast.

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