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CLAIRE TO PLAY FOR CLINTON; Blind Omagh pianist in White House date.

A YOUNG pianist who was blinded in the Omagh bombing will entertain a host of world leaders at a glittering White House party next week.

Claire Gallagher, 15, has been invited to play with composer Phil Coulter at President Bill Clinton's St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington.

The Derry-born singer-songwriter will head a list of artists which also includes fellow Irishman, flute player James Galway.

Claire and Coulter will perform one of his own pieces, chosen specially for the event.

Claire's mother, Marie, said the family, from Ashbourne Heights, in Omagh, was delighted by the invitation.

She said: "Phil Coulter got in touch with us on Monday and asked Claire if she would accompany him to the function.

"She was over the moon. He said he had chosen one of his own pieces and hoped she would play alongside him.

"This has come at a very opportune time and is just what Claire needs at the moment."

The talented teenager was a special guest at last night's Peace and Justice Awards ceremony which took place at St Angela's Ursuline Convent, in Waterford.

The GCSE student was nominated to collect an international award on behalf of the people of Omagh because of her "bravery and determination" in the face of her terrible injuries.

Award-winning journalist John Pilger also received an award, for his documentaries on East Timor and China.

The organiser of the annual ceremony Phil Brennan said: "This year we concentrated heavily on the aftermath of the Omagh terrorist bombing, which had a very dramatic effect on everyone in the college.

"We were especially inspired by Claire's bravery and determination and her desire to get on with her life as best she can."

The award will be presented to her for all the people of Omagh to let them know the solidarity which exists for what they have gone through.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Carton, Donna
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 12, 1999
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