Bill Clinton, 67, probably got the surprise of his life Wednesday when he was heckled during a speech in Northern Ireland about peace. I guess with Clinton's past history it may have not been the surprise of his life but it may have been unexpected. Clinton was a leading force in the quest for peace in Northern Ireland during the Troubles but today's heckler had Iraq on their mind. As a proficient speaker Clinton was ready with a quick retort asking the heckler "You wanna give this speech?" Mr Clinton was assessing peace in recent times saying the world had been "good to some" in recent years but "rough to others and it's been rough on you the past few years" when, according to Sky News, a man from the crowd was heard to shout: "What about the Iraqis?" Former President Clinton quickly recovered momentum answering "The Iraqi problem is that they don't have an inclusive government either and if they did, if they followed your lead, they would've been in better shape." The man however is not a lone voice this side of the Pond questioning the Iraqi war, its outcome, its legality and the actions of former US President George W Bush and UK PM Tony Blair. Northern Ireland is a more peaceful country these days but it is still not out of the woods. Last week the trial of a man accused of the Hyde Park bombings, in 1982, collapsed.
It turned out that during the peace process 187 letters had been sent to "on-the-run" Republican paramilitaries effectively giving them immunity from arrest and therefore prosecution. This led to former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain saying "British soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday killings should not be prosecuted. Fourteen civilians died after soldiers opened fire at a civil rights march in Londonderry in 1972." The conclusion is that the peace deal brokered in Northern Ireland was flawed, though much needed. Either both sides face prosecution or none do. Is the fact that trained soldiers are accused of killing slightly different, as they are representatives of a government, or should there be equality? Last week Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson threatened David Cameron that he would resign over the deals done without his knowledge; deals between the British government and Sinn Fein. His withdrew his resignation threat after Cameron promised to launch an investigation. So yes Northern Ireland is in a better place now, though it is not totally peaceful. I doubt Iraq can make that claim. Related reading: Former British soldiers admit killing unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland