There has been a universal welcome to the announcement earlier this year that former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband, Senator Martin McAleese, are to receive the 2011 Tipperary International Peace Award, according to Peace Convention Secretary, Martin Quinn.
As the Convention gears up for the Award presentation and associated events in July, there is a great feeling of achievement in their work by this small but dedicated team, which includes one of the founding members Joe Quinn.
“It is great that Joe remains at the helm and it ensures that the ideals and aspirations of the founding members are still to the forefront close on 30 years later” says the Convention Secretary when he was outlining plans for the programme of events for July 2012.
“Everyone has warmly welcomed the news that Professor and Senator McAleese are to receive the 2011 Peace Award and the presentation ceremony at Ballykisteen Hotel on Thursday July 5 is sure to be a very special one in the history of the Tipperary Peace Award. Already we have received confirmation of attendance from over 15 Ambassadors, the Attorney General, the President of the High Court, the Chair of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, the Leader of the SDLP, the former Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, the Garda Commissioner, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces along with representative of the main Churches and peace based organisations North and South. The attendance of so many holders of high office is a reflection of the major significance of the Tipperary Peace Award and of the esteem in which the McAleese’s are held” said Mr Quinn.
He has also welcomed the news that Tipperary Town Council are to accord a Civic Reception to Professor and Senator McAleese during their visit to Tipperary. “This decision by the members of the Town Council is indeed very welcome news and is a further worthy recognition of the efforts of the McAleeses in promoting peace and reconciliation”.
The programme of events being organised by Tipperary Peace Convention will run from Thursday July 5 to Sunday 8. “We are presently putting the final touches to our programme and are including some new aspects this year. Like many other voluntary organisations we are dependant on funding and on local financial support for our activities. I am hopeful that our applications for funding will be favourably received so that we can expand and develop our programme this year” said Mr Quinn.
A very important part of the programme each year is the Peace Forum and Mr Quinn says that this year’s topic will focus on the lessons learned from our troubled past in planning for a peaceful future. “We are delighted to have such eminent speakers this year as Baronees Nuala O’Loan, former Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland and Lord John Alderdice, former Leader of the Alliance Party. This event is certain to be a forum for some very interesting discussion and debate and I am eagerly looking forward to it and to the contributions of our Guest Speakers” said the Hon. Secretary.
The Song of Peace is also a key event on the programme and this year’s finalists are from various parts of Ireland (North and South), England, Canada and the U.S.A. Amongst the finalists this year is Tipperaray town ‘Nationalist’ Correspondent, Caitriona Kenny, with a song titled “Peace Be With Me”, which will be performed in the final by well known local singer, Margi Maxwell.