UUP boycott vote on freedom of the city for Clinton

Former US President Bill Clinton during one of his visits to Northern Ireland
Former US President Bill Clinton during one of his visits to Northern Ireland

A vote has been passed concerning the awarding of the freedom of Belfast to former US president Bill Clinton and senator George Mitchell tonight.

Mr Mitchell was Mr Clinton’s US special envoy to Northern Ireland at the time of the Good Friday Agreement and chaired the negotiations for the accord.

The motion was proposed by SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, who said Mr Clinton was a “champion of the peace process” who helped deliver a “long and lasting peace” to Northern Ireland.

Ulster Unionist councillors did not attend the vote in the chamber, having previously branded the bestowing of the honours a “gimmick”.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said it was a “fantastic honour” for the city of Belfast to be in the position to bestow the honours to the two men.

Independent unionist councillor Jolene Bunting spoke out against it, stating it would be “extremely embarrassing” given the “scandals hanging over the [Clinton] family and the long history of sexual allegations against him”.

People Before Profit councillor Matthew Collins took issue with Mr Clinton’s “grotesque” foreign policy record, and said calling him a man of peace was “nonsense”.

The motion was carried, with 43 members voting in favour and three against.

The ceremony marking the honour is set to happen on Tuesday at the Ulster Hall, when the ex-president will be attendance.