Former US President Bill Clinton heckled during speech in Derry

The former US president Bill Clinton has been heckled over Iraq during a speech in Derry.

Mr Clinton was pointing out in his speech at the Guildhall Square in Derry how things have been good for some parts of the world and not so good in others.

He told the crowd in Derry: "It's been pretty rough on you for the last few years."

He then attempted to continue his speech, but someone in the crowd heckled him about Iraq.

The former US President said: "You wanna give this speech? The Iraqi problem is they don’t have an incusive government either." The crowd cheered and he continued his speech.

Earlier in his speech Mr Clinton urged the people of the North to finish the job of cementing peace.

The US statesman said great strides had been made in the region in the last two decades but said more work was needed to overcome issues outstanding from the past.

Mr Clinton said it was not for him to propose the way ahead.

He said politicians had “inspired the world” but more progress was needed.

“You have to finish the job,” he said. “That you free yourselves of the past so you can embrace it and be proud rather than be imprisoned by it.”

Mr Clinton began his day-long visit to Northern Ireland by crossing a symbolic peace bridge in Derry.

Mr Clinton walked across the footbridge linking the nationalist City side of the River Foyle with the unionist Waterside alongside former SDLP leader and Nobel Laureate John Hume and his wife Pat.

John Hume, Bill Clinton and Pat Hume coming out of Derry's Guildhall today. Pic: PA

During his speech to a crowd in excess of 1,000, the former president paid tribute to Mr Hume’s efforts to secure peace.

But he said those still involved in the process needed to press on to overcome difficulties.

His comments come at a time when relations among parties in the region’s mandatory power-sharing executive at Stormont are at a low ebb, with a collective failure to resolve long-standing issues regarding parades, flags and, most crucially, the toxic legacy of the Troubles.

“This economy is coming back, we need to get this show on the road,” said Mr Clinton.

“So I implore you, for the sake of the young people, and all those who did so much, like John, for so long – finish the job.

“This is Ash Wednesday so permit me just one reference to scripture. Often at the funeral of good people the wonderful verse of scripture is cited from St Paul – ’I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I finished the course’.

“Well, you fought a good fight and I can look in your eyes and see you have kept the faith – you have not finished the course.”

Bringing his remarks to a close, Mr Clinton told the people of the city his heart would always be with them

“You have given me one more day in Derry I will never forget,” he said.

On his fifth visit to Derry, Mr Clinton also helped launch a book on peace-making produced by the University of Ulster.

Tonight in Belfast he will officially open a leadership institute named after him at Queen’s University.

Before delivering the inaugural William J Clinton leadership lecture at Queen’s, he will meet Mr Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont to discuss the current challenges facing the power-sharing institutions.

The 67-year-old was heavily involved in the peace process when he was president, especially in the run-up to the signing of the historic 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

He first visited Belfast in 1995.

Mr Hume said the visit of the former president was an “incredible honour” for his city.

“I have known Bill Clinton for 22 years and I have met him every time I travelled to Washington, and I have always had the greatest admiration for him,” he said.

“I am deeply appreciative for all the work he has done to help Northern Ireland, in spite of all the difficulties during his time in the Oval Office.

“Bill Clinton had economic difficulties and international difficulties to deal with during his administration, yet he gave so much time to Northern Ireland and the peace process.

“Pat and I are delighted that Bill Clinton is here in Derry, a town and its people transformed by peace and which we are all so proud of.”

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