Belfast Telegraph

Clinton told Northern Ireland leaders 'wake me up in the middle of night' during peace talks

By Claire Williamson

Former US President Bill Clinton told Northern Ireland's leaders that they could "wake me up in the middle of the night" during the peace process talks.

A series of transcripts of Mr Clinton's telephone calls and briefing notes have revealed conversations he had after they were released by the Clinton Presidential Library to the Irish Times.

They hold details of phonecalls between Mr Clinton and the leaders of the Northern Ireland parties and also with former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern between 1998 and 2000.

In June 1999 Mr Clinton calls the then Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble from Air Force One and says they can "wake me up in the middle of the night".

He said: “You guys can wake me up in the middle of the night if you think of anything I can do or say that will either help you with your own people by showing the United States will give you the high ground by completely disavowing the other side if they don’t keep their word, or if you can think of anything I can do to persuade Sinn Fein to come closer to you. I will do that.

"I know what position you are in.”

Mr Trimble replies: “I will try not to disturb your sleep but I thank you very much for this call.”

On May 27, 2000 Mr Clinton calls Mr Trimble to congratulate him on persuading his party to agree to a series of proposals, including the IRA's promise to decommission, to restore devolution.

Mr Clinton tells him: “You were brilliant. They may have to give you a second Nobel peace prize.”

He added: “The weird thing about politics is that sometimes you have to take more grief from your friends than your enemies."

Mr Clinton then calls Mr Adams. “I hated to see Trimble have to go back to all his crazies, but it came out okay.”

Mr Adams tells him: “Once again we are at this point because of your unique understanding.

“I have been saying to people: let’s make sure we get as much progress as we can while you are in the White House. It’s no accident that this has happened during your presidency. Thanks again.”

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