A former diplomat and special envoy to Northern Ireland said this week he was “honoured” to receive the Tipperary International Peace Award but admitted he would give it all up in exchange for a lasting agreement on outstanding issues in the north.
Dr Richard Haass joined an illustrious roll of honour at Ballykisteen on Monday when he was presented with the 2013 award by the Tipperary Peace Convention and spoke of the importance of achieving both peace and justice in Northern Ireland if the two communities are to live together.
The man who served as President George W. Bush’s special envoy in the early years of the last decade and was involved in overseeing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Last year he was asked by the Northern Ireland Executive to chair multi-party talks on contentious issues such as parades, flags and the past. The process fell just short on the December 31 deadline, having secured agreement from Sinn Féin and the SDLP, partial agreement from the Alliance Party but rejection from the DUP and the UUP.
“As honoured and as happy as I am to be here with you today, I gladly would have elected to forego the award for an agreement which, as everyone knows, we came close to getting but in the end did not.”
Dr Haass was in Tipperary with his wife and children and was accorded a standing ovation by the attendance at the award presentation following his no-holds-barred speech on the future of Northern Ireland and peacemaking.