Bill Clinton expressed concern over “real deal” between Gerry Adams and the IRA

Records released to the BBC under freedom of information reveal close relationship between Tony Blair and the former US President between 1997 and 2000

Bill Clinton expressed concern over “real deal” between Gerry Adams and the IRA

American President Bill Clinton (right) greets Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Picture by: PA / PA Archive/PA Images

Transcripts of calls and meetings between US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal the former’s concern over Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams’s links with the IRA.

The records, released to the BBC following a freedom of information request from the Clinton Presidential Library show a close personal relationship between the two world leaders.

Between the years of 1997 and 2000, Clinton and Blair discussed the death of Princess Diana, Gerry Adams, Iraq and stateless terrorism in the 21st century.

BBC freedom of information specialist Martin Rosenbaum reports that the duo were “clearly often worried about the delays in IRA decommissioning its weapons”.

At one point President Clinton remarked: “We’ve all taken our licks for Gerry”.


Source: Clinton Presidential Library

In a 1999 phone conversation, Clinton remarked that he didn’t know what the “real deal” was regarding the Sinn Féin leader’s links to paramilitaries. “I don’t know what the real deal is between him and the IRA,” he told Blair.

“I’ve been reading about it all through this, because my daughter just happens to be doing a paper on Adams.

“I don’t know what the real deal is between him and the IRA. It’s hard to put pressure on him when you don’t know what’s going on.

“It’s just bizarre,” Clinton added.

The day after the Omagh bombing, in August 1998, Clinton called Blair to give his condolences, and shared his fears about the evolving face of stateless terrorism, with a chilling prediction: “we’re going to increasingly have to deal with terrorists with no ties to any nation-state…”

Picture by: Chris Bacon / PA Archive/PA Images US President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair on the steps of the Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast

Death of Princess Diana

The personal closeness of the two men is evident throughout their tenure.

Clinton called Blair to express his sympathy over the death of Princess Diana on September 1 1997. Blair had by then delivered his “people’s princess” eulogy, and he told Clinton that her death was “like a star falling”.

According to the transcripts released to the BBC the two men each expressed their fears for Diana’s children, especially Prince William.

“She was such a rock of stability in the sense she connected them with the outside world,” Blair said.

“The eldest boy, William, is quite like her in a way, he is very ‘feet on the ground’, he does things kids his age do. She was not the royal family but she was liked by ordinary people, it gave her problems with the royal establishment.”

“I just feel so bad for her,” Clinton replied. “She was just basically getting a hold of her life.”

You can read the redacted transcripts in full, here.