By Sean Ryan - 06 November, 2016
The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has praised the role that Ireland has played in world peacekeeping and says he is honoured to receive the Tipperary International Peace Prize for 2016.
Speaking at the presentation of the award at Aherlow House in County Tipperary on Sunday last, Mr Kerry said that Ireland has made a massive effort in peacekeeping across the world.
Mr Kerry, who is a devout Catholic, said that “Ireland has made an extraordinary contribution to peaceful resolutions in conflicts across the world and punches above its weight when it comes to ending nuclear proliferation.”
He added, “Your peacekeeping is legendary now. Few nations understand more fully the challenges of addressing age-old conflicts over territory or sovereignty than Ireland. It is a lot harder to pursue peace than make war.”
Senator Kerry praised Ireland’s global role and input through the United Nations, which he said had been critical to conflict zones such as Libya, Chad, and the Congo.
Ireland ranks amongst the top ten countries in the world for humanitarian assistance, with an investment of nearly €100m this year alone, used to protect refugees, combat disease, and spur economic development.
The people of Ireland should be proud, Senator Kerry said, “and I want to emphasise how grateful we are in the United States for this partnership.”
Speaking about Ireland’s relationship with the US, Senator Kerry said that Ireland and the United States enjoy a special relationship and ties of blood and friendship going back centuries. The White House remains committed to both the ‘Fresh Start’ and Stormont Accords.
The Massachusetts senator said that Brexit must not have any impact on the peace process in Northern Ireland.
He added, “We are committed now to figuring out how do we answer some very tough questions. How do you maintain the economic opportunities which came through the EU, while at the same time reconciling the requirements of the will of the people with access to the Single Market? This is a tough issue, and I can’t tell you exactly how that’s going to be resolved.”
The Tipperary Peace Prize ranks as Ireland’s outstanding award for humanitarian work. The award scheme was founded in 1984 and has been given to some of the world’s leading politicians, civil rights campaigners and charity workers.
The decision to found a peace prize was sparked when a group of locals realised that the World War I song, ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’, written by Jack Judge, had led to Tipperary having an international association with conflict.
For the past 32 years, the Tipperary Peace Convention has worked to honour those who devote their lives to ending conflict and promoting human rights.
Pakistani teen, Malala Yousafzai, was the 2013 recipient. The 2011 award winners were President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin McAleese. The prize was awarded to them for their outstanding work to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
Other award winners over the years have included: US President, Bill Clinton; former South African President, Nelson Mandela; Live Aid founder, Bob Geldof; former Pakistani President, Benazir Bhutto; former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev; the late Senator Edward Kennedy; former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani; and Afghan human rights campaigner, Dr Sima Samar. The inaugural recipient of the award was the late Sean McBride.