One of the most famed priest of The Troubles, Father Des Wilson now 92, has given a strong acknowledgement of the Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton and her work in Northern Ireland.
Father Wilson was an iconic figure on the nationalist side, based in the war zone that was Ballymurphy in West Belfast for much of the conflict.
He became a vital voice for the dispossessed and parish priest and beacon of hope for thousands of nationalists as he fought for their civil rights. He also created employment schemes for locals even while being criticized by senior clergy for refusing to condemn the IRA.
Responding to Irish American civil rights lawyer Ed Lynch, Wilson wrote: “Bill and Hillary Clinton did what was needed in Ireland to help us create peace and did it openly, courteously and generously.
“We needed people to understand our international problems, act on behalf of those who needed help whoever they are and if necessary risk the displeasure of those who neglect solutions out of fear of consequences to themselves.
“Hillary went especially out of her way to raise the hopes and spirits of parents and their families.Both of them showed the importance not just of international treaties but of inter-communal courtesies. Over here we are saddened that anger and contempt have been used so corrosively as political weapons, but we are hopeful that in your presidential election our friends in the US may remember our hard road to peace and those who accompanied us along it. With great thanks for so much good done by so many Irish Americans.”
Wilson is one of the latest major Irish figures to praise Clinton. Previously in New York in March 2015 at an Irish America event the Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphrey, speaking for the Irish people, said to Clinton, “Thank you for standing with us when peace was not the inevitable outcome.”
For her part, Clinton who focused heavily on women’s groups in Northern Ireland stated, “I have been many places in the world where women moved from victims to agents of change but never but I have never seen it more clear, more resolute than I saw in Northern Ireland.”