Former US Senator George Mitchell today gave the Mary Robinson Centre Fourth International Human Rights Lecture in Ballina, Co Mayo.

Senator Mitchell said he was honoured to deliver the Mary Robinson Centre Fourth International Human Rights Lecture at St Patrick’s Church, Ballina.  “I am delighted to visit the home town of Mary Robinson and to have the opportunity to address an audience in a vibrant West of Ireland community.  I have admired Mary’s contribution to the world over many decades and it is a pleasure to be able to come to her home town, reflect on her work in so many fields and sense the well springs of her inspiration since she was a child.  It is something very special to be able to come back to Ireland and address an audience outside of a major urban centre.”

Former US Senator Mitchell served as a Special Advisor to President Clinton on Ireland and from 1996 to 2000 he served as the Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks.  Under his leadership, the Good Friday Agreement was completed by the Irish and UK Governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland. For his service in Northern Ireland, Senator Mitchell received numerous awards and honours including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour given by the U.S. Government; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize.  Senator Mitchell served as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from 2009 to 2011.

Prior to that he had a distinguished career in public service, serving in the United States Senate for 15 years, as Chairman of the International Fact-Finding Committee on Violence in the Middle East, as head of the investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, as Chairman of the Special Commission Investigating Allegations of Impropriety in the Bidding Process for the Olympic Games; and was the Independent Overseer of the American Red Cross Liberty Fund which provided relief for September 11attack victims and their families.

Senator Mitchell is the author of five books including Making Peace, an account of his experience in Northern Ireland and most recently The Negotiator: Reflections on an American Life.  In 2008 Time Magazine named Senator Mitchell one of the 100 most influential persons in the world.

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said she was honoured George Mitchell had accepted her invitation to speak in Ballina.  “George has been one of the world’s most outstanding peace makers and has been a great friend to me and to Ireland over many years.”

Mary Robinson served as the first woman President of Ireland from 1990-1997.  Following her presidential term, she has continued her global advocacy as UN Commissioner for Human Rights and currently as the UN Special Envoy for Climate and El Nino.

The Mary Robinson Centre will be Ireland’s first Presidential Library, displaying her archive and housing education, research and visitor attractions.  The Centre will highlight themes exemplified by Mary Robinson’s leadership: Ireland’s role in the international community, the Irish Diaspora, empowering women in leadership at all levels, international human rights and climate justice.

Senator Mitchell follows three previous distinguished speakers at the Mary Robinson Centre International Human Rights Lecture including Hina Jilani, Professor Muhammad Yunus and Graça Machel.