Northern Ireland public 'desire' Stormont return as opportunities missed, says Hillary Clinton

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told UTV she is confident power sharing can be restored in Northern Ireland.

She said there was a "desire on the part of the people of Northern Ireland to get back to normal governance" and opportunities were being missed through the absence of devolution.

She also said she felt Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could be open to changes to the Windsor Framework, the trade deal agreed between the EU and UK in a bid to overcome issues with the NI Protocol.

The veteran political said the benefits of the Windsor Framework had to to be considered.

Mrs Clinton is at Queen's University Belfast, where she is Chancellor, as part of a three-day conference to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Her husband, former US President Bill Clinton spoke at the event on Monday.

Mrs Clinton said she was confident of seeing power sharing restored. The DUP has been boycotting the institutions until its concerns are addressed around the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol - an arrangement the party contends has undermined the region's place within the UK.

Mrs Clinton added: "There are problems which are being kicked down the road, that need to be dealt with and there is also opportunities that the people of Northern Ireland are going to miss because there is no government to actually organise itself to take advantage of that."

On the DUP returning to Stormont the former presidential candidate said she had spoken to a number of party members who found the Windsor Framework went a long way and addressed a number of concerns they had.

"My response is that it also provides a lot of opportunities which were not there before Brexit. Northern Ireland will be put in such a privileged position. Access to the UK markets and all their trading partners and access to the EU... nobody else in the world has that.

"Are their concerns greater than the opportunities? That is for them to weigh, but that is the conversation that needs to happen."

Mrs Clinton also said she thought President Biden's plea to the UK Government to work closer with Ireland on the Windsor Framework would be heard by Westminster.

"I actually think that Prime Minister Sunak has shown an awareness and a flexibility about trying to make it work for all the parties in Northern Ireland," she said.

The former US Secretary of State believed the Prime Minister might be open to additional changes to the Windsor Framework if needed, describing Rishi Sunak as "open and responsive".

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