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Clintons, residents talk at Clinton center

ENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland – Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton visited a Northern Ireland peace center Friday named in honor of the former U.S. president.

At the end of their three-day trip to Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, the Clintons met community leaders in the town of Enniskillen.

The William Jefferson Clinton Peace Center was built here on the site of one of the Irish Republican Army’s most notorious bombings: a no-warning attack on a crowd of Protestant civilians commemorating the dead from World Wars I and II. Eleven people were killed in that November 1987 blast.

The Clinton center, completed in 2002, includes a 150-seat auditorium, two seminar rooms, an art gallery, a cafe and a 70-bed youth hostel.

The Clintons spent 90 minutes talking with Enniskillen youth and community-development officials. They also received a sculpture from local artist Mavis Thompson depicting the Manhattan skyline since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, intended as a tribute to the New York firefighters who died that day.

The couple made three trips to Ireland when Clinton was president. He became the first U.S. leader to devote considerable time to promoting peace in Northern Ireland. His envoy, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, oversaw 22 months of negotiations that produced the 1998 Good Friday accord.

The pact’s central goal – to forge a joint Catholic-Protestant administration for the British territory – fell apart in October 2002 over an Irish Republican Army spy scandal. Protestant leaders insist they won’t cooperate in government again with Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party, until the IRA fully disarms and disbands.


 

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