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Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi receives Sutherland Leadership Award in UCD Dublin

By Business & Finance
24 April 2024
Pictured at O’Reilly Hall, UCD (from l-r): Seamus Hand, Managing Partner, KPMG Ireland; Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Enda Kenny, former Taoiseach and Ian Hyland, founder and President of Ireland INC.

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi travelled to Dublin to receive the Sutherland Leadership Award at a special gala dinner yesterday, 22nd April, in association with KPMG.

Following an engagement at which she received an honorary degree and the James Joyce Award, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi was presented with the Sutherland Leadership Award at a special Ireland INC gala dinner in O’Reilly Hall, University College Dublin, for her significant contribution to democracy, equality and fairness throughout her career. The event was hosted in partnership with KPMG Ireland and venue host and university partner UCD. Sarah Freeman, Managing Editor of Business & Finance, hosted proceedings.

Pictured (from l-r): Ian Hyland, Founder and President of Ireland INC; Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and Colin Scott, Deputy President, University College Dublin.

Recognising her contributions to public life, Ian Hyland, President of Ireland INC, said: “As a mother raising her children in San Francisco, she taught her children the principles of hard work, empathy and perseverance …  a political career in which she would change attitudes, lives, livelihoods and the political landscape particularly for women, moving from homemaker to Speaker of the House.

“Eavan Boland once described the plight of women as being ‘Outside History’, but through her political and public life Nancy Pelosi, transcended traditional boundaries and became part of history.” 

Enda Kenny, former Taoiseach, presented her with the award, stating: “Believe me, you’ve got a lot of supporters in this country.”

Politicians, dignitaries, academics, and business leaders were in attendance to witness Pelosi accept the award. “She has been an advocate for civil rights, social justice, throughout her career,” Kenny continued.

Across healthcare, women’s rights, economic opportunity and climate change, Hyland noted, Pelosi has “placed her hand on the arc of history and turned it towards a more positive and progressive future.”

Countess Markievicz and The Death of Fionavar From the Triumph of Maeve

Eva Gore-Booth’s The Death of Fionavar From the Triumph of Maeve was presented to Pelosi in the form of a first edition copy by Ian Hyland.

A suffragist, artist and poet, Gore-Booth wrote the book in tribute to the many who died for freedom and peace in Ireland. The book was published in May 1916 and illustrated by Gore-Booth’s sister, Constance, better known as Constance Markievicz.

Serving time in Holloway, her death sentence having been commuted to life imprisonment, Countess Markievicz illustrated the book with rook feathers she collected in the prison yard.

Eva made a promise to her sister, before her sister was condemned to death. It is this line that Hyland quotes in presenting the gift to Pelosi: “We meet beyond earth’s barred gate – where all the world’s wild rebels are.”


Ever since its establishment in 2018, the Sutherland Leadership Award has recognised outstanding international leaders who have embodied the values of one of Ireland’s and Europe’s finest leaders, Peter Sutherland. Since its inception, The Sutherland Leadership Award has recognised European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Henry (Hank) Paulson, former US Secretary of the Treasury; José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank and Prime Minister of Italy and in 2023, Louise Richardson former Vice Chancellor Oxford University and President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, upon accepting the award, said: “What a thrill to return to Ireland – both officially and personally. Since America’s earliest days, the Irish have been patriots for our country.

“They fought with us in our war for independence and joined Lincoln’s Army to help preserve the Union. For decades, Irish workers built our canals, ports and railroads. The Sisters of Mercy came from Dublin to heal our sick and educate our children.

“I am thrilled to be here personally, because of my family’s proud Irish heritage, and while I don’t have Irish grandparents, I do have three Irish grandchildren,” she continued. “Liam, Sean and Ryan Kenneally were baptised at Kilquade Church in County Wicklow.”

Noting his various list of achievements – including his roles as Attorney General during the height of the Troubles and as Ireland’s European Commissioner – Pelosi paid tribute to Peter Sutherland. “Mr. Sutherland made it his mission to deepen the cultural ties between nations: taking pride in establishing the Erasmus Programme, which stands as a pillar of European integration through educational exchange.”

Ending her speech, Pelosi spoke about democracy under threat due to “a conflict between democracy and autocracy – imperiling freedom, security and peace around the world … But know this: Hope remains democracy’s most powerful weapon against oppression, against cynicism, against despair. The Irish know this well. Ireland’s story is the story of hope – how, with courage, faith and determination, we can build a brighter future.”

Fairness, democracy, equality

Irish citizens have experienced first-hand the benefits of Pelosi’s leadership, Seamus Hand, Managing Partner at KPMG, noted.

Recalling the actions of US statespeople in Ireland, Hand said: “[They] were instrumental in helping us achieve stability, peace and finding common ground on this island which has been central to the success of our society and economy. And we have also benefited indirectly in a more globalised economic environment which has facilitated significant investment in our country and where Ireland now plays an important role in the global economy.

Ending on a note of gratitude, Hand acknowledged: “Speaker Emerita Pelosi is one of the best examples of that support and friendship which has helped our country and all of us – the leadership you have shown supporting the Good Friday Agreement and more recently reinforcing it in the context of challenges around Brexit was and is greatly appreciated and recognised by all of us and is an example of why Ireland places such importance on the relationship between our countries.”

NYSE, Ireland Day and Ireland INC

Over 6 decades, Business & Finance has documented and supported the journey of Irish business and the people and companies, both nationally and internationally, who stand behind them. Building on this, Ireland INC was founded in 2010 to support and foster growth for Irish businesses operating in the U.S. This year, Ireland INC will celebrate Ireland Day at the New York Stock Exchange for the 15th year in a row. Every year Ireland INC publishes its Ireland INC Index, a list of 250 Irish companies making significant progress in the US.

Want to know more about Ireland INC? Click here.

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Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi to receive Sutherland Leadership Award in Dublin