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Honoring Irish Peacemaker Bertie Ahern

March 01, 2015
The former Taoiseach received an honorary degree during the George Washington’s Birthday Convocation Feb. 20 and praised former diplomat and College president Mitchell Reiss for helping him keep the peace process on track.

CHESTERTOWN, MD–Former Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern received an honorary degree, in recognition of his key role in bringing peace and shared governance to Northern Ireland, during George Washington’s Birthday Convocation, held Feb. 20 at Washington College. A savvy politician and statesman known for his outstanding negotiating 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.”  

At the Convocation ceremony, Ahern was introduced by former Washington College president Mitchell B. Reiss, who worked with him and other Irish and British political leaders while serving as U.S. Special Envoy to the Northern Ireland Peace Process from 2003 to 2007. Reiss called Ahern a “true public servant” and paid tribute to the steely determination he brought to the peace process that ended the funerals and made peace.  

Ahern, in turn, praised Reiss as an unsung hero for his role as an intermediary in negotiations that hammered out the tough details of shared governance. “He took what in Ireland we call ‘a dog’s abuse’ from all sides,” he said. “But he is a tall man with broad shoulders, and he took it and gave it back as necessary.” The former Prime Minister also spoke of the close relationship between his country and the United States, quoting George Washington’s tribute to the Irish for their friendship and support during the American Revolution. 



View the entire 25 minute portion of the ceremony involving Ahern and his honorary degree.


Ireland's Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, joined Bertie Ahern and Mitchell Reiss for a photo after the ceremonyIreland's Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, joined Bertie Ahern and Mitchell Reiss for a photo after the ceremony

Last modified on Mar. 20th, 2015 at 4:07pm by .