Clinton harrassed at Belfast International Airport?

Interesting comment on TalkBack just now, from Dr Daniel Kowalsky, a US academic at Queen’s University Belfast. TalkBack’s focus is on the xenophobia experienced by Dr Kowalsky, but the comment touched on a story noted here previously, the non-welcome for US historian Catherine Clinton. In contrast to the official line from Queen’s, as reported on the BBC at the time, Dr Kowalsky described that event as his colleague being “harrassed and then deported” at Belfast International Airport. If true, there might be more to that story that first appeared.

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  • Miss Fitz

    You know I heard him interviewed as well, and I think he was being over sensitive on the whole thing. When you go through passport control, you must smile sweetly and be obliging, otherwise you’re f*****, as I can testify.

    His point was that he walked straight up to the control desk before being asked to do so. I smiled when I heard that, cos I could write the rest of the story. The petty bureaucrats that sit at those desks have total power and control over their area, and fool you are to dismiss it. It wouldnt have mattered who he was or where he was from, he broke the first golden rule of authority.

  • Pete Baker

    Overly sensitive, Miss Fitz? Perhaps.. although not necessarily on the death threat he reported.

    But I was more intrigued by the Catherine Clinton angle… and how that will play out in relation to her returning to take up that post at Queen’s.

  • darth rumsfeld

    oh pete you tease- I saw the heads up and thought Slick Willie had been hauled in for a rubber glove and paper suit job – sicne he didn’t inhale you know

  • Miss Fitz

    I heard him on GMU, and I cannot recall any mention of a death threat. All he spoke about was his airport experience and how he felt singled out as a result of it.

    And hang on, the non-welcome for Clinton? She didnt have the right papers IIRC, so that was a no brainer. Thought she was coming back when it was sorted? Surely this is hearsay with Kowalski now claiming she was intimidated.

    I dont know what is so difficult about all of this. You go to a foriegn country, you get your act in gear. (Oh God, I need an E111….. bye)

  • Pete Baker

    Miss Fitz

    It is indeed hearsay… hence the “If true” in the original post.

    But if true…


    My bad ;o)

  • LiamCanuck

    My Belfast Airport experience this summer.
    I left Belfast a long long time ago. I have been a Canadian citizen for an awfully long time but I still have my Belfast accent (and they love it in North America).

    Coming home on a family visit, I was asked by officious immigration control lady, “why are you travelling on a Canadian passport if you come from Belfast?”


    “Because I am a Canadian citizen?” Duh!

    So I got admitted for “up to six months” but am not allowed to work there. LOL.

    Good thing I left my Irish (EU) passport at home. God knows what that would have led to.

  • Little Eva

    Such a non-story piece.
    By the way, try going through a USA airport to find out about self-important, nasty officialdom, and this isn’t just since 9/11 either. Try doing a la Ms Clinton without the right papers and I’ll bet you soon wish you were faced with the Belfast security men.

  • Wee Ulsterman

    Bang on – those American immigration officials can be some of the meanest, unreasonable, bureaucratic power-trippers there are.

    I hate the way they always single out ethnic minorities for “extra” attention.

    The rest of the world should respond in kind – a “special” channel for incoming US citizens where they can experience for themselves the unique delights of a tough ‘security environment’.

    Let’s simply reciprocate the level of respect we get from them.

    Then maybe they’ll put pressure on their own government to start treating people from other lands with a bit of respect!

  • LiamCanuck

    Little Eva.

    I guess uniforms are the same, the world over. Mind you, although I find USA officials to be alert, formal and direct, they maintain a very disciplined approach and are always courteous.

    I have a lot of cross (USA) border travel experience both through pre-clearance in Canadian airports enroute to the USA and at various land crossings.

    I will caution you on this one though. Never try to enter the USA at Niagara Falls in peak tourist season on a non USA or non Canadian papers unless you want to join a long wait with the other millions who want to enter. I learned this the hard way with a mother-in-law travelling on a British passport. Took us 6 hours waiting to be processed. Others in the immigration center took up to 24 hours.

  • Miss Fitz

    Easiest way to travel US/Canada to Ireland/UK, is enter on your home passport. I always go into the States on the US model, and into here on the Irish version. It’s not just handy, I am obliged to do it, but I know others who do it for convenience

  • Dread Cthulhu

    WU: “Bang on – those American immigration officials can be some of the meanest, unreasonable, bureaucratic power-trippers there are.

    I hate the way they always single out ethnic minorities for “extra” attention. ”

    Riiiiiiiiiight… which is why my pale-skinned, blue-eyed self always seems to end up with his shoes off and a rent-a-cop pawing through my luggage.

    WU: “Let’s simply reciprocate the level of respect we get from them. ”

    Wouldn’t do any good — its a wee bit like any system that’s divided into “us” and “them.” Whenever one side figures its gotten even, t’other figures its one behind. Besides, its not as if Yanks don’t get short shrift on the European side of the pond.

    Bottom line — Bureaucrats are bureaucrats, regardless of nationality.

  • Perhaps the problem with Belfast International is the fact that some of their staff are just plain ignorant.

    For instance, last year I was disembarking a plane at the airport, and on my way across the tarmac I took out my mobile to switch it on. No sooner had I pressed the ‘on’ button than I was told in no uncertain terms by some jobworth that phones shouldn’t be turned on until inside the terminal building- I wouldn’t have minded, but what kind of message is it sending out to tourists (of which I could have been one for all he knew) when the first person you come across attacks you like a bulldog for daring to switch on a phone? Did he think that I was remotely detonating a bomb or something? And when was the last time a plane went up in flames due to a spark from a mobile igniting jet fuel?

    Oh, and by the way, on most flights the crew are quite happy for you to turn on your mobile as soon as the seatbelt signs are switched off. Belfast International obviously is a law onto itself.

    Anyway, rant over…

  • Billy Ghoti

    Miss Fitz, while I don’t condone the actions, I must say I agree with your comment.

    I worked abroad for some years, and learned at an early stage that you just say, “Yes Sir Yes Sir, three bags full Sir”, until you are on the other side of the Immigration and the Customs areas of any airport. It made life so much easier.

  • IJP

    I’ve never met any worker at US immigration who wasn’t themselves a member of an ethnic minority (assuming WASPs are still the ethnic majority, that is…)