Clinton peace mission planned
Clinton peace mission planned

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could visit the north of Ireland in September in the role of peace envoy, it has been revealed.

Ms Clinton is set to take on the role of the next US envoy herself amid concern in Washington over the lack of progress in the peace process.

She visited the north six times between 1995 and 2000 when her husband Bill Clinton was US president and who is credited with helping to convince nationalists to support the peace process.

A state department spokesman confirmed this week that Clinton had taken personal charge of the Ireland brief for the Obama administration but has yet to decide whether to take on the role of special envoy permanently.

The decision by Clinton places the peace process at the highest-ever level within the US State Department. Previous incumbents such as Richard Haas, Mitchell Reiss and Paula Dobriansky all occupied senior positions in the department, but were never at the top.

Clinton has been involved in bringing women leaders together on several occasions in the North of Ireland as part of her ‘Vital Voices” initiative.

If confirmed, her next visit could see her meet the leadership of the Orange Order, as well as with ‘dissident’ republican leaders.

Meanwhile, the transfer of policing and justice powers from London to Belfast inched closer this week after British prime minister Gordon Brown agreed a process to increase the British subvention to the Stormont administration.

British officials will now examine funding issues over the summer months with the intention of agreeing a monetary package by September.

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said he was confident that the transfer could be completed before the new year.

“I believe the devolution of policing and justice powers is eminently possible before the end of this year,” he said.

“By September we expect a firm offer in terms of how to deal with outstanding legacy issues that we believe the British government have a responsibility to deal with.”

Britain has been asked to address many issues related to the past, such as the funding of unsolved investigations and ongoing inquiries.

Reports this week suggested that the Inquiries into the murders of Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Billy Wright have so far cost 95 million pounds sterling.

Sinn Fein spokesperson on Truth issues Francie Molloy said that “it is not the inquiries themselves which have cost money, it is the British government policy of concealment and cover-up which gave rise to them which has caused these costs”.

He said elements of the British establishment were seeking to hide behind the costs of these tribunals rather than focus on why they are in place in the first instance.

“It would do victims and survivors a much greater service if the British government instead of playing a bogus numbers game announced that they were finally prepared to come clean on their past involvement in collusion, state murder and other human rights abuses.”


In related news, PSNI Special Branch agent Mark Haddock has been charged with the 1997 murder of Shankill Road man John Harbinson. Haddock, who worked in collusion with the unionist paramilitary UVF in north Belfast, was arrested for killing Harbinson and injuring two others.

He has already been charged with the murder in 2000 of UDA leader Tommy English.

In a groundbreaking report two years ago, former police ombudsman Nuala O’Loan found that Special Branch officers had protected Haddock from prosecution for at least eight murders.

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond was one of those killed, said he was delighted to hear of the charges, particularly after unionist politicians claimed there was no evidence in the case.

“This shows the Historical Enquiries Team will not be influenced by Special Branch,” he said. “Hopefully there will be more charges brought.”


Meanwhile, an inquest into the shooting by police of unarmed IRA man Pearse Jordan in Belfast nearly 17 years ago is to be held next January.

The date of the inquest, delayed many times, was given in a High Court in the latest of a long line of legal actions surrounding the inquest into the killing on the Falls Road in November 1992.

Mr Justice Hart also dismissed an application by Hugh Jordan, the dead man’s father, that senior coroner John Leckey should not conduct the inquest Mr Jordan argued that at previous inconclusive hearings Mr Leckey had displayed prejudice in his rulings.

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