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Former Irish PM Ahern To Be Honored
Location: Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College will recognize the accomplishments of former Irish Prime Minister Bartholomew “Bertie” Ahern on Friday, February 20, during the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation. A savvy politician and statesman known for his outstanding negotiation skills, Ahern led Ireland’s government for more than a decade beginning in 1997. He is best known internationally for helping to negotiate the historic Good Friday Agreement that set Northern Ireland on a path out of the sectarian conflict known as “The Troubles.”
Ahern will receive an honorary doctorate of law degree at the Convocation ceremony, which gets underway at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The public is welcome, but seating is limited.
Bertie Ahern was first elected to the Irish parliament in 1977 as a member of the Fianna Fáil party to represent a section of his native Dublin, a city he would also serve briefly as Lord Mayor. After holding national ministerial positions in several Fianna Fáil administrations, he was elected Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, at age 45. Elected to serve two more consecutive terms, he became Ireland’s second longest serving prime minister.
Early in his first term he negotiated with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and leaders of political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin, to end “The Troubles.” Their landmark agreement, signed on Good Friday of 1998, laid the groundwork for peace and shared governance.
First as Minister of Finance and then as Taoiseach, Ahern helped shape a robust Irish economy with unprecedented growth and rising prosperity that became known around the world as the Celtic Tiger. He also led the European Council during the six-month period when it welcomed eight new countries from Eastern Europe.
Since leaving office in 2008, Ahern has been active in numerous groups that focus on conflict resolution, negotiation, and diplomacy.
The February 20 convocation, a ceremony attended by faculty, students and members of the community, also will recognize this year’s recipients of the College’s President’s Medal, Alumni Service Awards, and Distinguished Service Awards.