The University of Ulster has been awarded funding of £1m by the International Fund For Ireland (IFI) to support the establishment of a new peace studies Chair at its Magee campus in Londonderry.
To be known as the John Hume and Tip O’Neill Chair in Peace, the Chair will enhance the international profile of the University as a world leader in peace and conflict resolution studies.
Over the past decade, Nobel Laureate Professor John Hume has been closely associated with the University, and his international stature has given Ulster unrivalled visibility in the international sphere.
The late Tip O’Neill was one of the 'Four Horsemen' group of Irish-American politicians who, influenced by John Hume’s peace-making strategies, helped create the conditions for Northern Ireland’s peace process.
A former Speaker of the House, his name has been associated with Magee in the past 10 years in a series of 'Tip O’Neill Peace Lectures' supported by the Ireland Funds and delivered by international statesmen and stateswomen at the personal invitation of Professor Hume.
Welcoming the IFI’s announcement, Ulster Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett said:
"This generous and far-sighted endowment from the International Fund for Ireland will enable us to move forward with this important academic initiative, and will sustain this enterprise far into the future.
“Building on the strong foundations laid by Nobel Laureate Professor John Hume over the past decade, we want to further develop our globally recognised work in the area of conflict transformation by establishing the John Hume and Tip O’Neill Professor of Peace, based at our Magee campus in Derry."
Professor Barnett said that the establishment of the John Hume and Tip O’Neill Chair in Peace will:recognise the contribution of both John Hume and Tip O’Neill to conflict transformation and peacebuilding by recording and sharing the lessons learned and to continue the process of peace and reconciliation for future generations on the island of Ireland, the UK, and throughout the worldact as a unifying focus for important University of Ulster peace and conflict-related initiatives including the work of the Institute for Conflict Research (INCORE), and other conflict-related institutes and centres at the University.combine rigorous research and teaching with practical and policy impacts;aid local community developments aimed at consolidating peace; enhance the profile of Ulster’s Magee campus and the city of Londonderry as a world-recognised centre of learning and academic excellence in the field of peace studies.
“The award of this funding marks the successful completion of the first stage of a major fundraising drive,” the Vice-Chancellor said.
“We are confident our development plans will be generously supported by friends of the University in honour of these two great international statesmen and their lasting legacy of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.”
John Hume was formerly leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, former MP for Foyle and MEP for Northern Ireland. He received the Nobel Peace prize in 1998 (along with Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble) for his contribution to peace in Northern Ireland. John Hume is now an Honorary Professor at the University of Ulster.
The late Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill was one of the foremost Irish-American Democratic politicians of his generation, who rose to become Speaker of the House. His deep interest in Northern Ireland led to his partnership with John Hume in the drive for peace. Speaker O'Neill was also instrumental in the creation of the IFI. He died in 1994.