College will award four honorary degrees to individuals who contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland through diplomacy or activism, Registrar Neville Cox has announced.
Martin Mansergh, Monica McWilliams, Jonathan Powell and Nancy Soderberg will receive honorary degrees at a commencements ceremony in the Exam Hall on April 6.
All recipients have been advisors and activists in Northern Irish politics and the Good Friday Agreement, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on April 10.
Martin Mansergh is a former Fianna Fáil TD who served as Minister for State from 2008 to 2011. He was a political advisor on Northern Ireland to Taoisigh Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds, and Bertie Ahern. Mansergh is also the deputy chair of the Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations.
According to Cox: “Mansergh’s role in the drafting of the Belfast Agreement and in garnering support on all sides for what was contained therein was crucial.”
Monica McWilliams is a Northern Irish academic, peace activist and former politician. She served as a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast South from 1998 to 2003. In 1996, McWilliams co-founded the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) political party and was elected as a delegate at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations, which led to the Good Friday Agreement.
“In the peace accord, she secured key outcomes such as restitution for victims, inclusion of reconciliation, integrated education, shared housing and a civic forum in addition to addressing other key issues for the peace agreement,” Cox said.
Jonathan Powell is a British diplomat. He served as Downing Street Chief of Staff from 1997 to 2007, where he was the chief negotiator for the British government on issues in Northern Ireland. He was involved in drafting the Good Friday Agreement and the subsequent 2006 St. Andrew’s Agreement.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Powell as an essential negotiator in Northern Ireland: “Even if they didn’t trust me, they trusted him. Sometimes [Gerry] Adams and [Martin] McGuinness would take things from him that they wouldn’t take from me.”
Nancy Soderberg is an American foreign policy strategist who served as President Bill Clinton’s chief advisor on Northern Ireland. Soderberg advised Clinton to allow former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams a visa into the US, which has been described as a crucial symbolic gesture that convinced “the Republican movement that a peaceful course of action was the correct one”.
Soderberg is currently a member of the Ad Hoc Committee to Protect the Good Friday Agreement, a committee of 40 people that continue to uphold and support the peace deal in Northern Ireland.