Good Friday Agreement 15th Anniversary Symposium

Date/Time: Thursday, May 23, 2013 6:00PM to 9:00PM
Place: Cooper Union Great Hall/ The Foundation Building
Seven E 7th St between 3rd and 4th ave
New York, NY
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Admission: ADMISSION IS FREE, but seating is limited
Tickets will be required for seat reservations

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The Good Friday Agreement ranks among the most significant peace accords in history. This May will mark the 15th anniversary of this historic peace effort. The event will reflect on the importance of this agreement and the impact that it has had in the ongoing peace process.

Join us and hear American diplomat and former Senator George Mitchell, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland under President Clinton, as he makes a keynote address about this famed and still unfolding document and UN Registered Peace Agreement. Panel discussion will follow with Congressman Richard Neal ( MA) & Congressman Joe Crowley (NY) & Mark Thompson, Director of Relatives for Justice (RFJ) – Belfast.

Admission is free, but seating is limited to 900. Tickets will be issued for seat reservations. Seating is limited, so please only make reservations if you are sure that you can attend.
Click Here To Reserve Your Tickets

For more information, contact Sean Pender, NJ AOH President and AOH National FFAI Chair via phone at 609 462 7056 or email at
or Dan Dennehy, NYS FFAI Chair via email at

This event is sponsored by the AOH, The Irish American Good Friday Agreement 15th Anniversary Coalition – Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Societies, Irish American Unity Conference.
Sponsors – Friendly Sons of St Patrick, LI, CAIR and RFJ-USA, Daniel Shaughnessy of BNY Mellon Wealth Mgmt, Preferred Mechanical and Penny Hitchcock. Co-Sponsored by Cooper Union Continuing Education & Public Programs

Event Speakers & Experts

Senator George Mitchell

Senator George Mitchell has had a long and distinguished career. He served for several years as Chairman of DLA Piper and is now Chairman Emeritus. Before that he served as the United States Attorney for Maine; as a United States District Court Judge; as a United States Senator for fifteen years, including six years as Senate Majority Leader; for six consecutive years he was voted “the most respected member of the Senate” by a bipartisan group of senior congressional aides; after retiring from the Senate he served as Chairman of peace negotiations in Northern Ireland which resulted in an agreement that ended an historic conflict; and most recently from 2009 to 2011 as U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East. He led the investigations of the use of performance drugs in Major League Baseball; and of allegations of corruption in the selection of sites for the Olympic Games. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of The Walt Disney Company and as a director of several companies including Federal Express, Xerox and Staples. In 2008 Time Magazine described him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson is one of the founder members of Relatives for Justice (RFJ) and is the organization’s current Director. Under Mark’s tenure RFJ has emerged as a respected and leading NGO supporting victims and survivors of the conflict in Ireland addressing legacy and promoting human rights. Mark has been a leading advocate in the truth, justice and legacy debate first making the case for transitional justice in 1994 as part of the emerging peace process. Mark has addressed numerous international forums, symposiums, and led delegations advocating on human rights and transitional justice to mainland Europe and the US. Mark has addressed and given evidence to parliamentarians across Ireland, Britain and Europe tasked with examining human rights violations and the need for truth and justice. He has also presented evidence to the UN in Geneva and worked closely with international NGO’s such as Amnesty International. Mark has also testified before the US Congress and provides regular briefings to members of the US Senate and Congress concerning justice, rights & equality, and policing as part of the peace process. In 2009 Mark was appointed to the Victims & Survivors Forum for a 2-year period advising the Commission for Victims & Survivors, and the devolved government, on the needs of the bereaved and injured of the conflict. Mark also sat on the NI Human Rights Commission Working Group on Victims and is a member of the cross-community group Healing Through Remembering (HTR), working on initiatives aimed at dealing with the legacy of the past. Prior to becoming the Director of RFJ Mark worked on international solidarity and aid projects. He was also a Company Director in a family run business. Mark has volunteered on numerous community-based projects within West Belfast where he is from. Mark is one of the Directors of Relatives for Justice USA (RFJ-USA) a US registered not for profit organisation supporting and promoting the work of RFJ in Ireland. Mark is married with five children.

Congressman Joe Crowley

A native of Woodside, Queens and lifelong New Yorker, Joe has served the people of the Bronx and Queens in Congress since 1998. Before being elected to Congress, Joe received a bachelor’s degree from Queens College, ran a successful small business for nearly a decade and represented the 30th Assembly District in the New York State legislature. Throughout his career in public service, Joe has been driven by a desire to protect New York’s middle class. As Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, the fifth-highest ranking position in House Democratic Leadership, Joe’s efforts in Congress are focused on building strong communities, creating jobs, increasing access to health care and housing, protecting seniors’ hard-earned benefits, and opening up educational opportunities for working families. His seat on the prestigious Committee on Ways and Means allows Joe to work directly on issues of importance to the residents of the 14th District – keeping Medicare and Social Security strong, improving health care for all Americans and creating a fair and equitable tax code for American families and small businesses. Joe is dedicated to making the Bronx-Queens community more prosperous and secure. He established the Crime Stoppers program in 2002 to support local organizations that are working to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods, and it has delivered more than $1 million in federal funding to the Bronx-Queens community for graffiti clean-up, after-school programming, and civic patrol efforts. He is focused on further strengthening and expanding urban hospitals and specialty health centers, such as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Westchester Square. These are not only world-class medical facilities, but large and reputable employers in the area. Joe is also firmly committed to preparing all young Americans for work in the 21st century by advocating for public education, championing increased federal support for Head Start and other pre-kindergarten programs and fighting to maintain critical financial aid, such as Pell Grants, so more students can afford a college education. The 14th Congressional District is one of the most diverse areas in the country. Through his work with a range of local organizations, Joe has enriched his understanding of international affairs and become a leading voice in efforts to promote democracy and human rights around the world. He successfully introduced and passed legislation to honor Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi with the Congressional Gold Medal for her tireless efforts to bring peace and democracy to Burma. He has also fought for women’s rights both in the U.S. and overseas by introducing and spearheading the passage of the Girls Protection Act, legislation that prohibits the transport of minors abroad for the purpose of female genital mutilation. Like most New Yorkers, Joe’s life was profoundly changed on September 11, 2001. Tragically, his cousin, Fire Department Battalion Chief John Moran, was among the brave first responders who died that day in World Trade Center Tower 2. To make sure we never forget the sacrifices made that day, Joe spearheaded an initiative to honor the first responders who lost their lives trying to help their fellow New Yorkers with a Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. And, to ensure that New York and the nation are better prepared for future threats, Joe led efforts to create the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) which targets homeland security funding to at-risk urban centers, such as New York City. To date, New York City has received over $950 million in funding to make our airports, train stations and ports safer and more secure. Joe was also instrumental in passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide 9/11 first responders and workers with health monitoring and care. Both local and national media have recognized Joe for his effective and impressive record of leadership in Congress. In 2010, National Journal magazine named Joe “a rising star” in the Democratic Caucus and The New York Times has noted that his peers consider him to be a “hard working representative” who is “an impassioned advocate for his district.” Joe has been married to his wife, Kasey Crowley, for over a decade and they have three young children.

Congressman Richard Neal

Richie Neal has been a leader in the effort to bring peace and reconciliation to the island of Ireland for more than three decades. His prominent role in the peace process has been acknowledged by Bill and Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Irish President Mary McAleese, Nobel Peace Prize John Hume and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, among others. He has been honored by numerous organizations including the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and the American Ireland Fund. Irish American magazine has consistently included him on their Top 100 list. And Senator George Mitchell, the independent chairman of the peace talks in Belfast, has said he took great risks for peace for the role he played to help bring the Troubles to an end.

The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and the implementation of a devolved power sharing government in Belfast lead jointly by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson, is an American foreign policy achievement that was unimaginable just a decade ago. But the Northern Ireland is now viewed as a model for successful conflict resolution around the globe. From Middle East to Sri Lanka, other societies in dispute now look to the political leaders on that island to learn the lessons of peace making ending armed confrontation. And as a member of the United States House of Representatives, Richie Neal played an indispensible role in making that historic transformation possible.

His interest in Northern Ireland began when he was a Springfield City Councilor in the early 1980′s. Outraged by what he reading and learning about, he strongly criticized the British government for its harsh treatment of Irish republican prisoners being held in Long Kesh prison outside of Belfast. They were opposing a policy that classified them as criminals and were demanding to be treated as political prisoners. The British refused to make that concession, and ten young men, including their leader Bobby Sands, died from starvation. A decade later, he would refuse to attend a speech by Queen Elizabeth II before a joint session of Congress. His based his decision on the death of the hunger strikers, and the continued presence of the British military in the north of Ireland.

Richie Neal was instrumental in the effort to convince President Clinton to grant Gerry Adams a visa to travel the United States, an event now recognized as a turning point in the peace process. It should surprise no one in this room that one of the first places the Sinn Fein leader visited when he arrived was Congress Neal’s hometown of Springfield. When the IRA declared a ceasefire short time later, Richie Neal was in Belfast the next day meeting with political leaders discussing ways to move the peace process forward.

For years he has been an advocate for the Bloody Sunday families and relatives, he has called for public inquiries into the murders Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Raymond McCord. He has been vindicated when the convictions were overturned in cases like the Birmingham Six and the Guilford Four. And he continues to challenge the British government on charges of collusion to this day.

During the 1990′s, he travelled to Belfast frequently to meet with Senator George Mitchell who was brokering the peace talks in Stormont Castle. He met with all parties and strongly encouraged them to end the longest standing political dispute in the history of the western world. He also met with the leaders of the paramilitary organizations, including the Irish Republican Army and urged them to completely and verifiably decommission their weapons. When the IRA put their arms beyond use in 2005, the two independent witnesses travelled to Springfield to brief Congressman Neal’s constituents on the process.

Throughout the peace process, he has witnessed many extraordinary moments that were simply unthinkable when the Troubles began: the Rev. Ian Paisley shaking Prime Minister Bertie Ahern’s hand in Dublin and calling himself Irish; Martin McGuinness shaking hands in public with Peter Robinson, Gerry Adams attending the funeral of former adversary David Ervine; and Queen Elizabeth visiting Ireland on a state visit where she placed a wreath at the national memorial dedicated to those who died fighting against the British Empire. These transformative moments would not have been possible without the help of the United States of America, the many Irish Americans gathered in this room, and Congressman Richard Neal.

More recently, Congressman Neal has lobbied the Obama administration on behalf of the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He has urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder to reject efforts by the British government obtain confidential documents and recordings of former paramilitary members. He strongly believes the release of these sensitive and confidential documents has the potential of destabilizing then peace process.

An outspoken supporter of a United Ireland, an individual who traces his roots to County Down and County Kerry, the leading Democrat in the United States Congress serving on the Friends of ireland Committee.

This event is sponsored by the AOH, The Irish American Good Friday Agreement 15th Anniversary Coalition – Ancient Order of Hibernians, Brehon Law Societies, Irish American Unity Conference.
Sponsors – Friendly Sons of St Patrick, LI, CAIR and RFJ-USA, Daniel Shaughnessy of BNY Mellon Wealth Mgmt, Preferred Mechanical and Penny Hitchcock. Co-Sponsored by Cooper Union Continuing Education & Public Programs

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