As published in the December 2019 /January 2020 issue of An Cosantóir Magazine
By Sgt Wayne Fitzgerald – Photos by Armn Sam Gibney
Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland (1990-1997), was presented with the Tipperary International Peace Award for 2018, at the Tipperary Peace Convention 2019, at a ceremony held in the Excel Centre, Tipperary Town, on 7 November 2019.
As Irish president she was also supreme commander of the Defence Forces, and as such would have inspected many Irish soldiers serving around the world and at home. An honour guard from Post 24 (Clonmel) and Post 4 (Tipperary) of the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA) greeted Mrs Robinson. The honour guard was handed over by Seán Cosgrave (Post 24), who served 11 times in Lebanon during his lengthy service.
Mrs Robinson has held the positions of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), UN Special Envoy on the Great Lakes in Africa & Democratic Republic of the Congo (2013-2014), and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change (2014-2015), and is the current chair of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders, established by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who work together for peace, justice and human rights.
Guests at the convention included members of the Dáil and Seanad, EU and international diplomats, local county councillors, senior members of An Garda Síochána, Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM and Captain (NS) Brian Fitzgerald.
On entering the theatre Mrs Robinson, who was accompanied by her husband, Nicholas, was greeted with a standing ovation.
MC for the occasion, Martin Quinn, honorary secretary of the Tipperary Peace Convention, regaled the audience with stories Mrs Robinson’s previous visits to Tipperary during her presidency.
In introducing this year’s award recipient, Martin said that Mary Robinson had “rocked the system around the world over the last number of decades”. He referred to her work as a politician, becoming the first female president of Ireland, her many roles with the UN, her great charitable work, and her continuous efforts to highlight climate change around the globe.
On receiving her award, Mary Robinson said she was “very honoured and very humbled” to accept the award. She went on to name some of the previous recipients before adding: “There is something special about this award.”
The former president also invited the members of the IUNVA honour guard to receive a round of applause from the packed auditorium, saying: “I inspected many a guard of honour as president – but this one was special as it was made up of Irish peacekeepers, of whom I am very proud.”
For more information on the Tipperary International Peace Award and Peace Convention visit: www.tipperarypeace.ie
Read these stories and more in An Cosantóir (The Defender) The official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces – www.dfmagazine.ie.