The shortlist for this year’s Tipperary International Peace Prize has been announced. Most of the coverage in the Northern press has highlighted that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is among the nominees.
As in previous years, the range of nominees extends far beyond the island of Ireland. Other nominees with Irish connections are Amnesty International Ireland and Fr Patrick Devine.
Fr Devine is a native of Frenchpark, Co Roscommon, and the founder the Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in Nairobi, Kenya, an inter-religious organization pioneering conflict transformation and development work in Eastern Africa.
The date on which the winner will be announced is yet to be confirmed. But there is an opportunity to hear Fr Devine speak about his work at Queen’s University Belfast on Wednesday 22 March, in the Old Staff Common Room, 4.30 for 5.00 pm.
The Nationalist newspaper in Tipperary is running an online poll on who should win the prize – with Devine and McGuinness currently out front. (The newspaper poll will not affect the judging process.)
Previous winners of the Tipperary International Peace Prize include South African President Nelson Mandela, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the late Senator Gordon Wilson from Enniskillen, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin McAleese, Pakistani schoolgirl and Nobel Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon and last year’s recipient: former US Secretary of State, John Kerry.
Fr. Devine’s work in Africa began in 1988 when he went to western Tanzania with the Society of African Missions (SMA). In the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide he coordinated the pastoral care input of the SMA to the refugees from 1994-98. He began the Shalom Center in 2009.
He was awarded the 2013 International Caring Award, succeeding the Dalai Lama in 2012. Other notable recipients include Jimmy Carter, Mother Theresa, Colin Powell, George Mitchell and Bill Clinton. In 2014, eight countries in Eastern Africa presented him with the prestigious IGAD Award for his visionary contribution to peace and development in the region.
Fr Devine’s presentation at Queen’s is free and open to the public, but participants should register here for catering purposes. His talk will have direct relevance to academics and practitioners working in a variety of conflict situations, encompassing research-based religious and humanitarian perspectives.
Disclaimer: The event is hosted by the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice – where I work.