Public applications for Bill Clinton ceremony now open

US President Bill Clinton speaking in Belfast during a previous visit
US President Bill Clinton speaking in Belfast during a previous visit

Applications are now open for members of the public to attend Bill Clinton’s Freedom of Belfast ceremony on April 10.

The former US president is being given the honour alongside senator George Mitchell, Mr Clinton’s former envoy during the period before and after the Good Friday Agreement.

The ceremony will take place on the date of the signing of the 1998 accord, and is described by Belfast City Council as being to honour both men for “recognition of their services to peace in Northern Ireland”.

Members of the public can apply to be present at the ceremony in the Ulster Hall in central Belfast up until 5pm on Wednesday, April 4.

Free tickets will be allocated via a computerised draw.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alliance councillor Nuala McAllister, said whilst she was only aged nine at the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, “it brought huge benefits for my generation and we want to see a sustained peace within a truly inclusive city”.

She added that the “contribution made by both President Bill Clinton and Senator George J Mitchell to our peace process cannot be underestimated”.

Both men will be the 83rd and 84th recipients of the Freedom of the City of Belfast.

Other recent recipients include Sir Kenneth Branagh, the nurses of Belfast, Michael Longley, Van Morrison, and Dame Mary Peters.

In addition, the former president will attend an event called ‘Building Peace: 20 years on from the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement’ at Queen’s University Belfast the same day.

It is from 2pm to 5pm, and it open to the public, but registrations for it have now closed.

Mr Clinton will be joined by senator Mitchell, former Tony Blair aide Jonathan Powell, ex-taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams, David Trimble, Monica McWilliams, Dr Seamus Mallon, Lord John Alderdice, and Peter Robinson “as well as a number of community leaders and academics”.

A statement from Queen’s said the event was “gathering together all the key influencers from the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement period” in an effort to reflect upon “the achievements of twenty years ago... and indeed how far we have to travel”.

For more information on the event visit: www.qub.ac.uk/buildingpeace

The application process for the Ulster Hall event opens today (Thursday March 29) and will close on Wednesday April 4 at 5pm. You can apply online by visiting the council website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/freedom.