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Renowned Professor to deliver this year’s Tip O’Neill Lecture

Ronan Fanning

Professor Ronan Fanning who will deliver the Tip O’Neill Diaspora Lecture at this year’s annual gathering 


Veteran historian Professor Ronan Fanning will deliver the Tip O’Neill Diaspora Lecture at this year’s annual gathering to mark the life and times of the former US diplomat who is widely acknowledged as being one of the architects of the peace process in Northern Ireland.


The Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award was initiated by Donegal County Council in 2012 as a means of commemorating the centenary of the birth of the late Tip O’Neill, an illustrious grandson of Donegal emigrants and an eminent member of the Irish Diaspora. 


This award is presented each year to a member of the worldwide Irish Diaspora as a recognition and acknowledgment, here in Ireland, of the success and achievement that he or she has attained in his or her chosen field.  The recipient of the 2015 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award is US based philanthropist Ms. Loretta Brennan Glucksman


The Tip O’Neill Lecture has become one of the most prominent events which take place during the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora weekend.  This year’s guest speaker Professor Fanning is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at University College Dublin, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a joint editor of the Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009) and of the series Documents on Irish Foreign Policy of which nine volumes covering 1919-51 has already been published.


Co-author with Michael Lillis of The Lives of Eliza Lynch (2009) which has since been filmed as Eliza Lynch – Queen of Paraguay, his other books include the definitive history of the Irish Department of Finance, a history of independent Ireland and Fatal Path: British Government and Irish Revolution, 1910-22 (London, 2013). His new book, Eamon de Valera: A Will to Power will be published in October 2015.


Professor Fanning’s lecture is entitled ‘The Anglo-American Alliance and the Irish Question: the Role of Tip O'Neill’.  The Anglo-American alliance, Britain's so-called 'special relationship' with the United States, dictated American policy on Ireland for the first three quarters of the 20th century.


From the Paris peace conference of 1919, in which President Woodrow Wilson resisted Sinn Fein's claim to participate because he would not 'imperil the work of the entire conference or Anglo-American co-operation in order to force an Irish settlement', through World War II when Ireland's neutrality angered both the British and the Americans and through the first three decades of the Cold War that policy remained unchanged.


It was best summarised by Secretary of State Cordell Hull when he rejected a proposal by John Cudahy, the American Minister in Ireland, that President Roosevelt invite the British ambassador in Washington to the White House to express an interest in the settlement of Anglo-Irish differences on Northern Ireland. The partition of Ireland, declared Hull in March 1940, was 'a matter in which the United States government could not properly intervene'.


Tip O'Neill played a key role in dismantling that policy. His term of office as Speaker of the House of Representatives, from 1977 until his retirement in 1986, was book-ended by the two presidential initiatives that transformed United States policy towards Northern Ireland: President Carter's initiative of August 1977 and President Reagan's role in persuading Margaret Thatcher to conclude the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 with the Irish government that laid the foundations for the coming of peace in Northern Ireland.


Tip O'Neill, through his use of the power of the Speaker's office behind the scenes to put pressure on the White House, was the principal architect of both initiatives.


The Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Lecture will take place on Saturday 26 September at 10.30am at the Sliabh Sneacht Centre, Drumfries, Inishowen, Co. Donegal.  Admission is free and everyone is welcome.


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