International News

Washington Ireland Program honours Joe Kennedy III, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs

By Business & Finance
16 November 2023
Pictured: Charles O’Byrne, WIP Board Vice Chair, Prof. Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Provost of Ulster University, Joe Kennedy III, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, Ian Hyland, Founder and President of Ireland INC, Susie Hoffman, WIP Board Chair

On Wednesday, November 15th, friends and supporters of the Washington Ireland Program gathered at Crowell’s DC offices to celebrate the annual WIP Autumn Reception

WIP honoured Joe Kennedy III, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, with the Spirit of WIP Award  on 15th November at Crowell’s DC offices. This was part of the WIP Autumn Reception

This award was presented in recognition of the Special Envoy’s commitment to public service, his leadership role in the Irish-American community on Capitol Hill, and his work in strengthening peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland in his current role as Special Envoy.

Ian Hyland, Founder and President of Ireland INC, which is in partnership with WIP, spoke with Joe Kennedy and remarked: “WIP’s reputation for driving the very best of young leaders across the island of Ireland is outstanding, as evidenced by the quality of its alumni across many industries.

“Personally, and at Ireland INC, we see the value in WIP and their critical work because they are custodians of the next generation of talent, problem solvers, and change makers.”

Joe Kennedy III, Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs spoke about Ireland’s well educated workforce and growing entrepreneurial culture. He said: “My grandfather often called politics an “honorable profession.” Don’t be fooled by those trying to sully the brand these days. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are full of public servants who have risked personal safety and professional ruin to take chances for peace and prosperity.

The “tiny ripples of hope” he famously talked about in his 1966 speech to students in South Africa don’t always guarantee fame, fortune or success but they always guarantee the advancement of the human spirit. It is that spirit that animates the Washington Ireland Program. If, in some small way, my work touches on that mystical chord, then I will have done my job.

The truth is that business, university and political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have made my job a lot easier. While it is fair to say that so many of those involved in bringing jobs and economic hope to Northern Ireland are motivated by ancestral ties to the island, it is also true that the economic case investing in the region is very strong.

Genetic endowment only goes so far in explaining to shareholders why you’re opening a bioscience research lab in Belfast or a microchip facility in Derry. Nor do the inducements of a well-educated workforce, lower operating costs, and a growing entrepreneurial culture appeal only to the Murphys, the McGees and the McGillicuddys of the world. I have met an astounding array of people with family roots from around the globe working in Northern Ireland. They’re betting on a brighter future in the region.”

Provost of Ulster University, Prof. Cathy Gormley-Heenan commented: “That while we inherit our history, we choose our future. Over the years, WIP has chosen to help shape that future in a very profound way.”

Prof. Gormely-Heenan compared creating a better future for our island to a relay. “With your support, the next WIP students will take the baton, and the amazing opportunities here help them to become the changemakers and leaders of tomorrow, delivering on the business of peacebuilding and public service each day.”

The event was hosted by WIP Board Chair Susie Hoffman.

For almost three decades, the Washington Ireland Program (WIP) has played an important role in post-conflict Northern Ireland and Ireland by bringing together leaders from a wide range of communities and backgrounds for outstanding leadership and skills-development programs.


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