Bill Clinton to speak in Derry

Former US President Bill Clinton will arrive in Derry today almost twenty years since first visiting the city.

Derry’s Mayor Martin Reilly said the visit, which will see President Clinton honour Nobel Laureate John Hume during a public address in Guildhall Square, will be a hugely significant occasion.

President Bill Clinton visits Derry in May 2001

President Bill Clinton visits Derry in May 2001

“I am delighted that the 42nd President of the United States has decided to make a return visit to the city to honour John Hume. It’s a huge accolade for the city and a great opportunity for the public to share in this city celebration.”

President Clinton will address the crowd at 12:30pm. Phil Coulter and the University of Ulster Choir are also due to perform.

Derry’s MP Mark Durkan said the former President’s visit - the fifth in just short of 20 years - shows “he hasn’t forgotten the North and hasn’t forgotten Derry in particular.

“John Hume and Bill Clinton have a very warm relationship.

“Bill Clinton very much relied upon John Hume’s judgment and read on the situation here in the North at various stages of the peace process. Indeed, John was his best temperature gauge for how bad things were, or the prospects for the future.”

The visit has been organised by the University of Ulster.

President Clinton will also launch ‘Peacemaking In The Twenty-First Century’, a new book celebrating a series of peace lectures given at the University’s Magee campus, this time round.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett, said: “The University of Ulster is delighted to strengthen its links with President Clinton and to welcome him back to the city.

“President Clinton is an Honorary Graduate of Ulster, and has a long history of engagement with the university, particularly with our Magee campus in Derry~Londonderry.

“We are honoured that President Clinton will be with us both to launch the book and to support the developments at INCORE, the university’s international peace and conflict centre, linked to the John Hume and Thomas P O’Neill Chair in Peace.

When President Clinton first visited Derry in 1995 when he was President of the United States.

During that visit, thousands of people turned out to greet him at Guildhall Square.

It was a chilly Thursday afternoon in November when the then President arrived in Derry city centre in a blaze of black limousines, American flags, tight security and rapturous applause.

During his speech that day, he told the massed ranks in front of the Guildhall: “I came here because you are making a home for peace to flourish and endure.”

He returned to Derry for a second time in the summer of 2001 and was back again two years later.

On that occasion, he gave the inaugural lecture at the Tip O’Neill Chair of Peace Studies at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.

During his 2010 visit, again to Magee, he outlined his strategy to help lift the North out of its economic malaise.