Hillary Clinton appointed Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland
- It was announced today she will become 11th and first female chancellor
- Former US Secretary of State and her husband Bill have long kept ties with N.I.
- Clinton once claimed: ‘I helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland’
- Her husband’s role in the peace process is seen as one of his greatest successes
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been appointed Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast.
She takes up the largely ceremonial role in Northern Ireland where the peace process was one of the greatest successes of her husband’s presidency.
The 2016 presidential candidate becomes the first female chancellor of the 175-year-old institution, one of the oldest in Britain.
‘It is a great privilege to become the Chancellor of Queen’s University, a place I have great fondness for and have grown a strong relationship with over the years,’ Clinton said Thursday.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has been appointed the eleventh and the the first female Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast
Then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, with Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson (left) and Martin McGuinness, at Titanic Belfast, in Belfast in 2012
During her time as Secretary of State from 2009-2013, Clinton visited Belfast to support the 1998 Good Friday peace accord.
It largely ended 30 years of violence between Catholic nationalists seeking union with Ireland and Protestant unionists who want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
In her statement, Clinton added: ‘The university is making waves internationally for its research and impact and I am proud to be an ambassador and help grow its reputation for excellence.’
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams at the State Department on March 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. Adams was visiting for St Patrick’s Day
Clinton traveled to Northern Ireland several times in the mid-1990s with her husband during the Good Friday talks, with Bill Clinton’s hands-on approach widely recognized as crucial at moments when the agreement looked like crumbling.
Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, who as US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland chaired the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement, served as chancellor of Queen’s from 1999 to 2009.
Hillary was heavily criticized for exaggerating her role in the peace process when she claimed that she was ‘instrumental’ in bringing peace to Northern Ireland when battling Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.
Clinton becomes the university’s 11th chancellor.
US President Clinton (right) appears with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams (left) during a reception at Queen’s University in Belfast in 1995
Queen’s University can trace its roots back to 1845 when it was established as one of three Queen’s Colleges in Ireland. It is the second oldest university in Ireland, and the ninth oldest in the United Kingdom
The role, which Clinton will hold for the next five years, involves presiding at degree congregations and acting as an ambassador and adviser for the university, according to Queen’s.
Stephen Prenter, Queen’s pro-chancellor, said he was delighted by the appointment.
He added: ‘Secretary Clinton has made a considerable contribution to Northern Ireland and as an internationally recognised leader will be an incredible advocate for Queen’s and an inspirational role model for the Queen’s community.’
What is the Good Friday Agreement?
The Good Friday Agreement helped to end 30 years of sectarian conflict, that were also known as ‘The Troubles’. This conflict began when Northern Ireland separated from the rest of Ireland in the 1920s and away from British rule.
Northern Ireland was then divided in two groups, the Unionists or the Loyalists, who wanted to remain a part of the UK and the Nationalists or the Republicans, who preferred the independence.
Catholics protested after being discriminated against in the predominantly Protestant north and from the 1970s, violence erupted between armed groups on both sides. British troops were sent to the area, but came up against the largest of the Republican groups, the Irish Republican Army, or the IRA.
The IRA bombed areas of Britain and Northern Ireland and Loyalists in groups like the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) were also responsible for many deaths. In 1972, the situation became markedly more serious as the IRA began targeting police officers and British army soldiers on the street.
14 people were killed by British troops during a peaceful protest led by the Catholics and Republicans in Derry and in a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, dampening hope that Northern Ireland would ever be peaceful again.
However, in the 1990s, the IRA announced a ceasefire and after two years of discussions and 30 years of the Troubles, the Good Friday agreement was signed.
A new government was formed with power being shared between the Unionists and the Nationalists in a group called the Northern Ireland Assembly. Every house in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was sent a copy of the agreement before the referendum was held in May 1998.
The two countries voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Assembly took their seats in December. However, those who were against the peace, continued violence and in 2002, the Assembly was suspended and the UK government had to take over decision-making.
In 2007, power was returned and the British army ended its operations in Northern Ireland, but ten years later, the deal collapsed and has yet to be restored.