Two of the major players in the Northern Ireland peace process, Seamus Mallon and David Trimble, have been conferred as Doctors of Philosophy at an honorary ceremony in the Helix. The pair were conferred yesterday, October 8th, in recognition of the role they played in bringing about the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
The Right and Honourable, The Lord David Trimble was the first Unionist leader to negotiate with Sinn Féin. As leader of the Ulster Unionist party in 1998, he began eight months of talks with the republican party which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement. Trimble backed the Agreement despite opposition from more than half of his parliamentary colleagues. He subsequently became First Minister of Northern Ireland, holding office until 2002.
Armagh native Seamus Mallon was deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) from 1979 to 2001. A pacifist and strong advocate for civil rights, he became a member of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in 1994. After the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, he was appointed deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, a position he held until 2001.
The Good Friday Agreement was a statement by the political parties of the Republic of Ireland and the UK that Northern Ireland would remain a part of the United Kingdom unless the people decide otherwise. It contributed greatly to the relative peace that followed in the North and the normalisation of the government and security forces there.
Honorary ceremonies at DCU have previously awarded, amongst others, Brian O’Dwyer, Irish-American lawyer, immigration rights lobbyist and adviser to President Bill Clinton on Irish issues, and John Fitzpatrick, hotelier and philanthropist.
Image Credit: Nick Bradshaw @ fotonic