Hariri honoured by Tipperary peace award


Lebanon's former prime minister, the late Rafic Hariri, was named today as the 2005 Tipperary International Peace Award winner.

Mr Hariri was assassinated in February in a Beirut explosion that also killed bodyguards and bystanders.

Mr Hariri paid the ultimate price for his convictions as he died defending the spirit that united the Lebanese people
Tipperary Peace Convention spokesman Martin Quinn

The Tipperary Peace Convention, which has awarded the prestigious prize since 1984, said Mr Hariri's political career touched many aspects of Lebanese life as he was a courageous man of peace within the Arab world.

"The Tipperary Peace Convention is pleased to announce on World Day of Peace that Rafic Hariri is the recipient of the 2005 Award and in doing so, recognises the close relationship that Ireland has had with the Lebanon through the many years of peacekeeping duties there by members of the Irish Defence Forces," said Convention spokesman Martin Quinn.

"A leader who showed love and commitment for the wellbeing of all his people, Hariri made many sacrifices in order to promote a culture of peace and prosperity for all and to bring a torn society together again following the devastation of war.

"Mr Hariri paid the ultimate price for his convictions as he died defending the spirit that united the Lebanese people," he said.

A Sunni Muslim, Mr Hariri was instrumental in the implementation of a road map towards peace in Lebanon, culminating in the signing of the Taef Peace Accord. The Taef Accord and the ratification of a new Constitution brought an end to years of war and division and was the start of a new journey to rebuild the country.

The Convention said the reconstruction of the country following the 1975-1990 War has been compared to Europe's reconstruction after World War II and is a tribute to Mr Hariri's outstanding and visionary leadership.

Speaking a short time before his death, Mr Hariri said: "We are a people who deeply believe in peace, tolerance and justice, and we would love to live in peace with our children and grandchildren."

Mr Hariri was prime minister of Lebanon from 1992-1998 and from 2000-2004. During his political career he received many decorations from kings, princes and heads of state and was the recipient of the UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour in 2004.

The Tipperary International Peace Award will be presented at a ceremony in Tipperary in April. Previous award winners include former South African president Nelson Mandela, the late Senator Gordon Wilson, founder of GOAL John O'Shea, peace brokers Mona Juul and Terje Larsen, Senator George Mitchell, Live Aid Organiser Bob Geldof, former US president Bill Clinton and murdered Iraqi aid worker Margaret Hassan last year.