Northern Ireland news

New Bill Clinton painting by Colin Davidson unveiled in New York

Former US president Bill Clinton as painted by Co Down artist Colin Davidson

FORMER US president Bill Clinton has told how he was moved by a portrait painted by Co Down artist Colin Davidson which he says has captured him in a way he would "not be prepared to show myself".

The painting was unveiled in Manhattan yesterday - more than 25 years after Mr Clinton made the landmark decision to grant then Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams a US visa.

The ex-president, who became a key figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, said he was moved by the painting.

The portrait shows a more pensive and downbeat Mr Clinton than his positive public persona.

"This actually captures a part of my personality I often try to keep hidden because I try always to be upbeat, I always try to be positive I always to think that the best is around the corner," he said.

He added: "I am very grateful because the painting shows me in a way I would not be prepared to show myself, in my 'I don't know, but I sure hope so' mood. I don't know but I will be there until, in my immortal phrase until the last dog dies, trying to make it so.

"We owe it to generations to come to make this the greatest age of discovery and empowerment and inclusion in human history but to do it we have to meet some stern opposition."

At the unveiling, the former president expressed his concerns about Brexit and said the referendum was taken without any consideration of how it could damage the north.

"I don't like living in an age of resentment and division, I like living in an age of possibility and hope," he said.

He said he is also worried about how Brexit might affect the UK.

"Those who want a hard Brexit are portraying it as the liberation of the UK but if you look at the population trends and the wealth and productivity trends, they could be consigning one of the greatest nations in human history to a smaller role," he said.

To coincide with Monday's unveiling, three universities announced the creation of Clinton Scholarships in Peace Studies.

Three scholarships, each valued at €120,000, were announced by Massachusetts University, Dublin City University and the University of Ulster.

Co Down artist Colin Davidson speaking to former US president Bill Clinton

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