On this Day: Bill Clinton's Visit

On this Day: Bill Clinton's Visit

Date: 30/11/2020 14:23

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the historic visit of President Clinton to Northern Ireland in 1995.

The trip included visits by President and First Lady to the Falls Rd and Shankill Rd, crossing to East Belfast to visit an Enterprise Park, addressing crowds outside the Guildhall in Derry/Londonderry and switching on the Christmas lights in front of Belfast’s City Hall. With all-party talks scheduled for February 1996, the visit was seen as a way to support progress towards peace.

While young people were foregrounded throughout the visit, nine-year old Catherine Hamill’s speech at Mackie’s factory in West Belfast was one of the most memorable moments of the visit. 

At the end of a long and intense day, Bill Clinton ends on a humorous note, in answer to a letter from a local boy called Ryan. It’s not clear if Ryan was in the crowd to hear the President’s reply, but it’s recorded here for posterity.

A couple of years later, Arís, a TnaG children’s programme, revisited the event and added a rather irreverent voiceover. For students of history who can ignore the President’s comic search for Dana, the footage has a serious use, as it represents another source for those studying the event. For example, this clip shows who was in the crowd at the Guildhall on the day.