Tipp To Roll Out Red Carpet for McAleese’ Visit

TIPPERARY is looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband, Senator Martin McAleese, when they arrive to receive the 2011 Tipperary International Peace Award, said Peace Convention Secretary, Martin Quinn, when he announced details of this year’s programme at a launch event at Kilshane House on Sunday last, June 17th.

TIPPERARY is looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband, Senator Martin McAleese, when they arrive to receive the 2011 Tipperary International Peace Award, said Peace Convention Secretary, Martin Quinn, when he announced details of this year’s programme at a launch event at Kilshane House on Sunday last, June 17th.

“Everyone has warmly welcomed the news that Professor and Senator McAleese are to receive the 2011 Peace Award and the presentation ceremony at Ballykisteen Hotel on Thursday July 5th is sure to be a very special one in the history of the Tipperary Peace Award. We have confirmation of attendance from 15 Ambassadors, the President of the High Court, the Chair of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, the Leader of the SDLP, the former Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, representatives of An Garda Siochána, the Naval Service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, along with representative of the main Churches and peace based organisations North and South, including the Crossfire Trust, the Peace and Reconciliation Group, Derry and the Irish Peace Centres. The attendance of so many holders of high office is a reflection of the major significance of the Tipperary Peace Award and of the esteem in which the McAleese’s are held” said Martin Quinn. There are a limited number of tickets available for sale for the Award Ceremony and Luncheon and these can be purchased from members of the Peace Convention Committee.

Martin also welcomed the news that Tipperary Town Council will accord a Civic Reception to Professor and Senator McAleese during their visit to Tipperary. “This decision by the members of the Town Council is indeed very welcome news and is a further worthy recognition of the efforts of the McAleese’s in promoting peace and reconciliation and I want to thank the Mayor and members for the honour being accorded to the McAleese’s” said the Convention Secretary.

The programme of events being organised by Tipperary Peace Convention will run from Thursday July 5th to Sunday July 8th. “We are delighted to launch our programme here this evening and look forward to welcoming everyone to our events in July. Like many other voluntary organisations we are dependant on funding and on local financial support for our activities and I want to thank South Tipperary Development Company, Fáilte Ireland and IMRO for their financial support this year”.

A very important part of the programme each year is the Peace Forum and Martin said that this years topic will focus on the lessons learned from our troubled past in planning for a peaceful future. It will take place at Ballykisteen Hotel on Friday July 6th at 10am. “We are delighted to have such eminent speakers this year as Baronees Nuala O’Loan, former Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, Lord John Alderdice, former Leader of the Alliance Party and former Methodist President, Rev. David Kerr. This event is certain to be a forum for some very interesting discussion and debate and I am eagerly looking forward to it and to the contributions of our Guest Speakers” said the Hon. Secretary who added that the Forum was a great opportunity for people to listen to the views and reflections of a very distinguished panel and to engage with them in a Question & Answer session. He said that the event was open to the public and that there was no admittance charge and that light refreshments would be served. He encouraged people to attend this event and to meet and engage with the Guest Speakers.

The Song of Peace is also a key event on the programme and this years finalists are from various parts of Ireland (North and South), England, and the U.S.A. The 10 finalists in the Contest were announced at the launch with special mention being made of local newspaper correspondent, Caitriona Kenny, who is a finalist with her song titled “Peace Be With Me”, which will be performed by well known local singer, Margi Maxwell.

It was announced that a star attraction on the night of the The Song of Peace Final will be Irish singer/songwriter Mundy, who will perform in Concert at the event doing a 30-40 minute set on the night. This is all happening at the Tipperary Excel on Saturday July 7th. It will commence at 8pm and tickets, which include a pre-show reception, are now on sale at the Excel (062-80520) and are priced at €15 each.

There was news also of a Busking Festival in Tipperary Town on Saturday July 7th. Martin Quinn told the assembled guests in Kilshane that the West Tipperary Mental Health Association had come on board to stage this event and that they looked forward to filling the streets of Tipperary Town with music and song on the Saturday afternoon with the incentive of a winner take all prize of €600. Enquiries regarding the Busking Festival to 085-8492184.

Martin also made special reference to a Tree Planting Ceremony and Afternoon Tea Party at Mount Sion Community Residence, Tipperary on Friday July 6th at 2.30pm. “We are delighted to involve the Mount Sion Residents, Staff and Friends with our programme and we are especially delighted that Baroness Nuala O’Loan has accepted our invitation to plant the tree in the grounds of Mount Sion. I hope that the community of Tipperary will come out in force to welcome Nuala O’Loan to Tipperary Town and to enjoy an evening of entertainment in the grounds of the residence”.

Dean Philip Knowles addressed the launch and invited everyone to a special Ecumenical Service for peace at St. Mary’s, Tipperary on Sunday July 8th at 12.30pm. He thanked the committee for including the service in the programme and looked forward to welcoming everyone to St. Mary’s on July 8th.

The Peace Convention members may be small in number but they are an extremely busy and hardworking group. These were sentiments that were echoed in their addresses by Mayor of Tipperary, Cllr. Jacqui Finnan, Chairman of South Tipperary County Council, Cllr. Michael Fitzgerald and by Deputy Tom Hayes. The Mayor of Tipperary told the guests that she was delighted to have proposed the motion to accord a Civic Reception to Professor and Senator McAleese, which was unanimously endorsed by her colleagues on Tipperary Town Council. Cllr. Fitzgerald said that Tipperary Peace Convention should be very proud of its achievements over the past number of years and of the very important role that it has played in promoting peace and reconciliation while Tom Hayes, T.D., commended the committee on selecting Professor and Senator McAleese for the Peace Award and said that it was an ‘inspired choice’. Thanks were also expressed to Karen O’Brien, who is providing secretarial support to the Peace Convention Committee this year. Karen can be contacted at the Muintir na Tire Offices on 062-51163 or by e-mail at tipperarypeace@muintir.ie As it was the last official function for the Mayor, Martin Quinn made a presentation to her on behalf of the Convention and on behalf of the poeple of Tipperary Town and he paid tribute to her on being an outstanding first citizen.

A special Souvenir Brochure is being printed for the occasion and those wishing to take support advertising should contact Niamh Quinn at Fitzpatrick Printers on 062-51113.

In conclusion Martin expressed the wish that people would turn out in large numbers at the various events on the programme. “It is certainly shaping up to be a busy opening to July in Tipperary Town as the Peace Convention events will be followed by a week long programme marking the 100th Anniversary of the writing of the song “It’s a long way to Tipperary”. Where Tipperary leads Ireland follows............”