Eisenhower Fellowships have a long and rich association with the island of Ireland, both North and South, playing a part in the leadership development of 30 Fellows, including some of those directly involved in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. A network of Irish Fellows meets regularly and is committed to playing an active part in the work of the Eisenhower Fellowships both in
The Irish participation in the Eisenhower Fellowships dates back to the 1960s with the selection of Denis Tuohy (a UK Fellow from Northern Ireland in 1967) and Denis Corboy (the first Eisenhower Fellow from Ireland in 1968). Further Fellowships were awarded at intervals over the next number of years, with individual Irish Fellows participating in the Multi-Nation Programmes. Over time, an informal network of Eisenhower Fellows began to take shape, and it is to these ‘founding’ Fellows that a particular debt of gratitude is owed for their vision in recognising the potential for an all-island Fellowship Programme.
Ireland Single Area Programme (1989)
By the late 1980s, a number of the Irish Fellows had begun to develop the concept of a Single Area Programme for the island of Ireland, providing the opportunity for a group of Fellows from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic to travel together to the USA to participate in a Fellowship Programme. Eisenhower Fellowships decided that the model for the programme would be the Single Nation Programme that had been organised for the
The Ireland Single Area Programme Fellows are a diverse group drawn from a range of professional fields including: business, government, law enforcement, healthcare, education and the church. They travelled to
Building the Network
The meeting at Sugarloaf unanimously decided that the Irish Fellows should hold a meeting in Belfast following their return home. At this meeting, it was agreed to establish an Irish Eisenhower Fellowship Network with the aim of sustaining contacts between individual Fellows and working to support the Eisenhower Fellowships Programme in Ireland. The Irish Network established a pattern of meeting twice-yearly for conferences, with the location alternating between North and South. The dialogue which takes place in these meetings enriches Fellows’ understanding of the diversity of cultures and political beliefs on the
Through the leadership of one of the ‘founding’ Irish Fellows, Donal de Buitleir, Allied Irish Bank committed funding for 5 years for Eisenhower Fellowships. In addition funding was raised for an initial three Fellowships by distinguished US-Ireland Fellows over the succeeding years, through which friendships and professional contacts were established and sustained between US Fellows and the Irish Fellows. Following the success of this initiative Eisenhower Fellowships have awarded a series of US Fellowships to
The Irish Fellows continue to play a leading part in selecting emerging leaders from Ireland to participate in Multi-Nation Programmes in the USA. Through this selection process, the Irish Network continues to renew itself and now includes among its number distinguished leaders in business, government, the performing arts, and the social economy. The selection process for Irish Fellows is acknowledged as an exemplar of best practice and now involves extensive search and selection procedures that are robust and transparent, including final interviews in which Fellows from both the North and South participate.
Reaching out beyond Ireland
The Irish Fellows have been regular participants at Eisenhower Fellowship Conferences, both within Ireland itself, the USA and internationally. International conferences were held in
Irish Fellows are and have been active members of the Eisenhower Fellowships President’s Advisory Council, the International Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees.
The Northern Ireland Peace Process
Several of the Irish Fellows made important contributions to the Northern Ireland Peace Process culminating in the Good Friday Agreement. Terry Carlin and Peter MacLachlan from
The Irish Fellows continue to make important contributions to public life in Ireland. One of the Northern Ireland Fellows, Tom Frawley, is the Northern Ireland Assembly Ombudsman, with responsibility for oversight of governance and standards within the Northern Ireland Administration. Another Northern Ireland Fellow, Sir Brian Kerr (now Lord Kerr), served as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland from 2004 until his appointment to the House of Lords and, subsequently, the United Kingdom Supreme Court, in 2009. Dan Flinter is Chairman of the Governing Body of the National University of Ireland (Maynooth), Peter Malone is current Chair of the National Roads Authority and Chancellor of the
Plans for the Future
In 2009 the Irish Fellows established a Network Development Committee to consider the future organisation of the Irish Network. The Development Committee report was subsequently adopted as a ‘constitution’ for the Network and forms the basis for the Network’s current activities. New features include the establishment of a Network Organising Committee, with responsibility for organising two events each year within
The contribution of the Irish Eisenhower Fellows was recognised in 2008 with the presentation of the first Distinguished Alumni Award to the Eisenhower Fellows in Ireland. At the same meeting in Philadelphia, Senator George Mitchell, who chaired the Multi-Party Talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, was awarded the Eisenhower Medal for his outstanding contribution to international affairs.
Looking ahead, the Irish Eisenhower Fellowship Network continues to build on past strengths while re-envisioning itself for the future. The most recent addition to the Fellowship Network are two outstanding women leaders from Ireland and Northern Ireland, Salome Mbugua and Lourda Geoghegan, who will participate in the Eisenhower Fellowships Womens’ Leadership Programme in the Fall of 2010.
The Irish Eisenhower Fellows remain determined to honour the vision of President Eisenhower and to ‘make a difference’.