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Chelsea Clinton: Suddenly she’s America’s favourite daughter

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The eyes of the world have been on Chelsea Clinton since her multi-million pound weekend wedding to investment banker Marc Mezvinsky.

Tabloid editors have been pouring over almost every detail of the 29-year-old woman of the moment’s life, following the lavish ceremony last Saturday afternoon.

But there is one piece of information few people know. And that is, surprisingly, that the former first daughter’s specialist subject is the Belfast Agreement.

Yes, Ms Clinton — or, rather, the new Mrs Mezvinski — is rather an expert Northern Ireland and its one-time tortuous peace process.

As a senior studying for her history degree at Stanford University, California, in 2001, Chelsea produced a 150-page thesis on her father, former US President Bill Clinton’s, efforts to find a solution to our age-old problems in the late nineties.

And now, with an insatiable public appetite for all things Chelsea, everyone wants to know exactly what the young student wrote in her piece.

Internet chatrooms, particularly those popular with the Irish American community, have been buzzing over recent days with demands for the lengthy document to be made public.

One blogger wrote: “Why, oh why do they persistently want to hide things?”

Another wag suggested: “Did Chelsea write about Ulster’s peace process — or did she come up with the idea of how to end the Troubles, and pass on that advice to her papa?”

According to Professor Jack Rakove, her faculty advisor at Stanford, Chelsea — who has tried to keep a low profile since her family moved out of the White House after his eight-year term of office — spoke with her father “at some length” about the negotiations.

She is also known to have met prominent Northern Ireland politicians including Nobel Laureate and former SDLP leader John Hume and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Interest in the thesis document first flared after Hillary Clinton claimed during her White House campaign that she had been instrumental in cementing the Good Friday Agreement peace accord.

However, requests from political opponents and the media have been fiercely resisted.

Through Clinton aides, Chelsea directed reporters to ask Stanford University for the document. But the academic institution said it didn’t have a copy in its library, and her professor who does have one, said only Chelsea could give the green light.

The thesis, said Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines, “was written to satisfy an academic requirement—not media curiosity”.

Bill Clinton — whose ancestors were from Co Fermanagh — ultimately became one of the main architects of the Good Friday Agreement.

He was the first US President to visit Northern Ireland, sent US Senator George Mitchell as an envoy and used his own personal encouragement and pressure to help broker the deal.

In 1995 thousands of people lined the streets of Belfast to watch him switch on the city’s Christmas lights during what turned out to be first of three official visits.

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