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Peacemaker George Mitchell is set to open new QUB institute

By Staff Reporter

Published 24/06/2016

George Mitchell
George Mitchell

Former senator George Mitchell - one of the main architects of the peace process - is today launching an institute at Queen's University named in his honour.

The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice aims to tackle major global problems by bringing world-leading academics and experts together.

Mr Mitchell played a central role as a peacemaker as chairman of the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Now in his early 80s, the father-of-three has maintained an interest in Northern Ireland since the historic talks.

He also served as Chancellor of Queen's University between 1999 and 2009.

On a visit here last year, he warned there were some people who wanted to take the province back to the "dark days of violence and the Troubles" - although the vast majority recognised that politics was imperfect.

The new global research institute, which is a flagship body for interdisciplinary research in areas of major societal challenge, is the second of four to be launched at the university.

It will see researchers come together from fields as diverse as politics, mental health, planning and computer engineering to focus on four priority areas - legacy issues, justice and rights, security, and ideology and beliefs.

The launch event, which will be attended by key players in the Good Friday Agreement, will begin with a discussion entitled, What next for Northern Ireland?

It will include speeches from guest speakers Jonathan Powell, who was Tony Blair's chief of staff, and Tim O'Connor, who worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs during the peace process. It will be chaired by the BBC's William Crawley.

This will be followed by speeches from Mr Mitchell and award-winning author Colum McCann, after which Mr Mitchell will unveil a plaque.

Speaking ahead of the event, he said: "Through research, education and civic engagement, the institute aims to make a difference to the lives of ordinary people who are struggling with the aftermath of conflict by empowering them to realise fairness, justice and tolerance.

"The work of the institute is vitally important in addressing some of the greatest global challenges of our time."

Professor Patrick Johnston, the president and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, added:"We are honoured that former senator George Mitchell has given his name to and has officially launched our new global research institute."

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