Accepting the Tipperary Peace Award on Monday, Dr Haass said that, while Northern Ireland has achieved devolved political power in Stormont, a multi-party executive, the PSNI and the decommissioning of arms, “but not quite normalcy, not quite peace.
Anyone doubting this need only consider Northern Ireland’s segregated schools and communities, the continuing terrorist threat, the high cost of policing, the all-too-often gridlocked government, and the reality that political parties are still more defined by religious traditions and national aims than by the role of the state in the economy or the relationship between the individual and government.”
He also said that, while many have suggested Northern Ireland must choose between peace and justice, or that it is time to “get over” the past and focus on strengthening the peace, he did not agree. “I say this acknowledging that such approaches appear to have been successful elsewhere. But I believe Northern Ireland must have both peace and justice.”
Among the attendance at Monday’s event were diplomatic staff from South Korea, the United States, Slovakia, Kenya and South Africa: ministers Alan Kelly (who spoke for the government) and Tom Hayes; Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane; Seamus Healy TD; county council chairman Cllr Michael Fitzgerald; garda Assistant Commissioner Jack Nolan; Chief Superintendent Catherine Kehoe; Superintendent Patrick O’Connor; clergy including Fr Brian Darcy; Brigadier General Derry Fitzgerald of the army; representatives from Co-Operation Ireland, Amnesty Ireland, Trust Ireland, and youth groups; along with other local politicians and dignitaries.
A message of congratulations was read out from tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs Eamon Gilmore, who is abroad on duty, in which he celebrated the “significant progress” made by Dr Haass in Northern Ireland.
Martin Quinn of the Tipperary Peace Convention spoke about the 100-year history of the song It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, and the 30 years of the Tipperary Peace Convention. “Part of the work of the Tipperary Peace Convention has been to engage people in dialogue, discussion and debate, bringing people of varied and diverse backgrounds together, so we can hear their views and they can hear ours on the issues of national and world peace.”
While the Tipperary Peace Convention may not change the world, Mr Quinn said, “it can be like a pebble that hits the water, it will create a small ripple and will then cascade out into ever larger circles.”
He paid tribute in the citation to Richard Haass’s career and his various involvements with Northern Ireland over the years.
“You served as an inspiration to us and an example of what can be achieved through dialogue and negotiation,” he said.