Ahern receives honorary degree

 

The Taoiseach has said he would be very concerned if the institutions agreed under the Belfast Agreement were not in place more than a few days after the October 31st deadline.

Mr Ahern was speaking after receiving an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame for his work in the peace process. In his address at the award ceremony in Trinity College Dublin on Saturday, he paid tribute to Mr John Hume and Mr David Trimble for the contributions which had led to them being awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

He said Mr Hume had "given 30 years of his life to try to find an accommodation between the two great traditions" in Northern Ireland, and had been at the forefront of every movement for peaceful change, from the civil rights struggle to the Belfast Agreement.

He said Mr Trimble had faced "horrendous opposition" within his own party, even at senior level. There were parts of his constituency he could not visit because he would be in danger after the courageous stand he had taken for peace.

Praising the US contribution, Mr Ahern said Notre Dame's new study centre in Newman House, St Stephen's Green, which was formally opened at the weekend, would be "an important intellectual pole of attraction" for US and Irish academics and students.

Earlier, the Irish Ambassador in Washington, Mr Sean O hUiginn, had given the inaugural lecture at the centre, named after former CocaCola president Mr Don Keough, who financed a new Irish studies institute at the university in Indiana with a gift of $13 million.

He spoke of the need to "entrench a culture of equality" in Northern Ireland which would provide a "consensual framework" valued by unionist and nationalist alike, and thus a stable base on which to build the North's future.

Seventy Notre Dame students have enrolled for a semester or year of study in Dublin, and the number is expected to rise to 100 by 2000. They are studying at both University College Dublin and TCD. Philosophy and theology are taught at the Keough Centre and it is planned to open these courses to UCD and TCD students.