Saturday, February 04, 2017

Martin McGuinness nominated for Tipperary Peace Prize

Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has been nominated for the 2017 Tipperary Peace Award.

Mr McGuinness resigned from the Northern Ireland Executive last month and later announced that he would not be seeking re-election to the Assembly due to ill health.

A former Provisional IRA leader, Martin McGuinness was MP for Mid Ulster from 1997. He announced his resignation as an MP in late December 2012.

Following the St Andrew’s Agreement and the Assembly election in 2007, he became Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, with the DUP leader Ian Paisley becoming First Minister.

On 5 June 2008 he was re-appointed as Deputy First Minister to serve alongside Peter Robinson, who succeeded Paisley as First Minister. He resigned as Deputy First Minister on 9 January in a protest over the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, and announced on 19 January that he would not be standing for re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly due to ill health. He was Sinn Féin’s unsuccessful candidate for President of Ireland in 2011.

Also nominated is Roscommon-born and Kenyan-based priest Fr Patrick Devine. Fr Devine is a member of the Society of African Missions, and has 25 years of experience in helping to mitigate conflict and poverty in Africa.

In 2009 he set up the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) in Nairobi, which has had remarkable success under his leadership in replacing conflict and violence with peace and co-operation in renowned conflict areas.

Amal Clooney, nee Alamuddin, is a Lebanese-British lawyer, activist and author, and is one of two people from the Lebanon to be nominated. She is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in international law and human rights.

She has been part of several United Nations commissions and tribunals. Her clients include Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. She has also represented the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy. She is married to the American actor George Clooney.

Also nominated is Rabab al-Sadr, a Lebanese social and human rights activist and philanthropist. She adopted and promoted the social vision of her brother, Imam Musa al-Sadr, who encouraged her to join the Imam al-Sadr Foundation in Lebanon around 1960 and devote herself to social work and humanitarian aid.

Al-Sadr oversees the girls’ section of the foundation, providing much-needed economic assistance and social guidance to orphaned and dependent girls, regardless of their religious background. Al-Sadr strongly believes in the central role of education for women as a means for social change and personal growth.

Amnesty International (Ireland) is nominated for being a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. The organisation is currently actively campaigning for the release of Irish-born Ibrahim Halawa, who has been imprisoned for over three years in Egypt. Amnesty International has declared him to be a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’.

The Syrian White Helmets are also nominated for their peacekeeping work. When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer function, these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need – regardless of their religion or politics.

The White Helmet volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth. More than 50 bombs and mortars a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria. When this happens, the White Helmets rush in to search for life in the rubble – fully aware that more bombs may fall on the same site. These volunteers have saved 78,529 lives, and this number is growing.

The award recipient will be announced in the coming weeks and will be presented with the International Peace Award in Tipperary in 2017 on a date yet to be confirmed.

The award was founded in 1984, with the first recipient being the late Seán McBride, a former TD and one of the founders of Amnesty International. Since then, the Tipperary Peace Convention has worked to honour those who devote their lives to ending conflict and promoting human rights.

Previous recipients of the Tipperary International Peace Award include: Former South African President, the late Nelson Mandela; former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; 

The late Senator Gordon Wilson from Enniskillen; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband Dr Martin McAleese;  Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who later went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Dr Richard Haass; Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; and and last year’s recipient, Former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

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