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Appearing in Derry Girls made me think about peace in NI, says Chelsea Clinton

Daughter of Bill Clinton admits the Good Friday Agreement episode was moving and says she is enraged at US abortion ruling during visit to Belfast

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Chelsea Clinton speaks to the Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea Clinton speaks to the Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea Clinton speaks to the Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea Clinton has revealed that she sobbed watching the Derry Girls’ Good Friday Agreement episode in which she made a surprise cameo appearance because it was an emotional reminder of how peace here was hard won.

The daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton said that her family maintained a strong interest in Northern Ireland and regularly followed developments around Brexit and the NI Protocol.

She said she “cared intensely” for Northern Ireland and reassured people here that they had “friends across the ocean” and that they were not alone.

And she said that the Good Friday Agreement was also a reminder for Americans feeling cynical and disheartened about the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn abortion rights, that even if the present had “lost ground”, the future could always be “more peaceful, more just and more sustainable.”

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Chelsea Clinton (right) with Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill on stage at the Lyric Theatre

Chelsea Clinton (right) with Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill on stage at the Lyric Theatre

Chelsea Clinton (right) with Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill on stage at the Lyric Theatre

The famous American writer and activist was at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on Wednesday to take part in an interview with Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill. The ‘In Conversation With...’ event was organised as part of the Our Place in Space festival, and the actor and activist, who co-wrote The Book of Gutsy Women with her mother Hillary, discussed the role of women in society and peace building.

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Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of the event, Chelsea, who popped up at the end of the Derry Girls finale in a present day cameo, said she was a huge fan of the show set in the 90s, and had jumped at the chance to make a guest appearance.

And she said she found the Good Friday Agreement episode particularly moving.

“Oh gosh, I sobbed even though I knew what was going to happen obviously. I mean I lived through that time and was in the last episode, but I cried so much,” said Chelsea.

“I have these vivid memories of my dad and my mum trying to help and all the hard work that went on. Americans feel great affection for this place and great pride that the country played even a small role in trying to reach the Good Friday Accords.

“As an American and someone who cares intensely about what happens here, I want to remind people that they do have friends across the ocean who want sustainable, durable peace and all that peace can and should enable.

“This is not a moment to feel so alone. I know that certainly my mum, through her relationship with Queen’s University, feels that keenly.

“Also, my dad feels keenly that not only should the Good Friday Accords persist in whatever the appropriate configuration is that at least the majority of people can get behind, but also that the lessons from that time are remembered.”

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Chelsea Clinton receives a letter in the finale of Derry Girls

Chelsea Clinton receives a letter in the finale of Derry Girls

Chelsea Clinton receives a letter in the finale of Derry Girls

Chelsea said that even though the start of the Brexit campaigned coincided with her mother’s 2016 Presidential campaign, they still kept an eye on what was going on in Northern Ireland.

“I was consumed by trying to support my mum and her campaign and trying to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president at the time,” she said.

“But we all still paid attention to Brexit, partly because of what the implications would be for Northern Ireland.”

Speaking about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion, Chelsea said she was “enraged” and blasted the court’s decision as “catastrophic”.

“We know that women and girls will die. This is not hypothetical,” she said.

“We know that women and girls will die not only because of the cases being discussed now with people who will pursue unsafe abortions, but also because of the restrictions around when doctors can intervene in a medical emergency.

“Often, they’ll be able to legally intervene past the point at which a woman’s life or health could be saved.

“This is just catastrophic from a public health perspective and catastrophic from a human rights perspective, that we have lost our right to privacy, to bodily autonomy, to agency. I am enraged.”

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Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Chelsea Clinton

Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Chelsea Clinton

Derry Girls star Jamie-Lee O'Donnell and Chelsea Clinton

The mum-of-three said the reality was that America had “fallen backwards” but that optimism was a “moral choice”.

“We have to believe that the future can be better even if the present has lost ground,” she said.

“The future can always be different, more peaceful, more just, more sustainable, healthier and so I think the Good Friday Accords are really important reminders for us as Americans too.”

In her cameo spot in the Derry Girls special, Chelsea was seen at the end taking delivery of a letter sent by the five teenagers just ahead of President Clinton’s visit to the city in 1995. The letter had been sent to the White House but had gone astray.

The story arc was inspired by a letter the teenage Lisa McGee, series creator, had written herself to Chelsea Clinton, inviting her to accompany her to the Strand Cinema in Derry, during the Presidential visit.

Chelsea, who had to keep her cameo a secret from her children in case they leaked it, said she never received Lisa’s letter. She said she would’ve replied, had she read the letter, as she had been disappointed herself when President Ronald Reagan never took the time to reply to a letter she had sent him when she was five years old.

When asked what film she would choose to go and watch now with Lisa, Chelsea, who said she had already watched Branagh’s Belfast and loved it, immediately replied: “Elvis. I haven’t seen it yet and really want to.”


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