Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

£876,000 for university Peace chair

John Hume, left, with Thomas O'Neill, representing the O'Neill family, during a ceremony at the University of Ulster Magee campus in Londonderry

Politicians who helped boost the peace process in Ireland have been honoured by a university engaged in learning the lessons of the decades of violence.

The University of Ulster announced funding of a further £876,000 for the John Hume and Thomas P O'Neill Chair in Peace which will be established at its Magee campus in Londonderry.

The project is part of the university's long-standing efforts to bring the lessons of the peace process to other global trouble spots and the Chair bears the name of Irish and US political figures who helped create an alternative to the violence of the Troubles.

Vice-chancellor Professor Richard Barnett made the announcement at a gala event marking the centenary of the birth of the late Irish-American political heavyweight Tip O'Neill and celebrating the 75th birthday of former SDLP leader John Hume.

Politicians and diplomats including Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, US Consul General Gregory Burton, Irish government representative Niall Burgess and former Irish Ambassador to the US Dr Sean Donlon paid tribute to the achievements of Mr Hume and Mr O'Neill in securing peace in Northern Ireland and welcomed the plans for the new Chair honouring their work.

Prof Barnett told an audience which included members of the O'Neill and Hume families: "The John Hume and Thomas P O'Neill Chair in Peace will be a full-time academic position, honouring both men's significant contributions to peace, and their unique friendship. It will also play a pivotal role in overseeing a new INCORE peace initiative which will train the next generation of peacemakers from around the world.

"The new Chair will build on the success of the original Tip O'Neill Chair, supported by the Ireland Funds, which under John Hume's tenure from 2002 -2009 gave the University of Ulster unrivalled visibility on the world stage.

"Professor Hume attracted an unparalleled group of international figures to the Magee campus, including President Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, European Commission President Romano Prodi and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

"In addition to recognising Professor Hume and former House of Representatives Speaker Thomas O'Neill, this initiative will mark the legacy of the peace process and the contribution of the many individuals who played a role in securing peace in Northern Ireland."

Once established, the Chair will form part of a wider initiative building on the work of the International Conflict Research Institute at Magee, which applies lessons from Northern Ireland's peace process to conflict zones around the world.

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