Bertie Ahern, the former Irish prime minister, will deliver the 11th John Kennedy Lecture in Liverpool on 22 November, 2018.
Bertie Ahern retired as Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) in May 2008 having enjoyed the unique distinction in modern Irish politics of being the first person in over sixty years to have been elected to that office on three successive occasions.
He served as a member of Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament) for almost 35 years. He was first elected to the Dáil in 1977 for the constituency of Dublin-Finglas and he represented Dublin Central from 1981 until 2011.
He was Minister for Labour from March 1987 to November 1991 and was appointed Minister for Finance on three separate occasions from November 1991 to December 1994. During this time he was one of the Irish representatives to sign the Maastricht Treaty, having been heavily involved in its negotiations. Bertie Ahern was first elected Taoiseach in June 1997, he was re-elected in June 2002 and again in May 2007. In 1997 his party was elected to government in coalition with the Progressive Democrats. This minority administration was supported by a small number of Independent members of Parliament. Bertie Ahern received widespread praise for his political skills in ensuring that this administration served its full five year term and delivered on real political and economic progress for the Irish people.
On the wider world stage during his Presidency of the European Council from January 2004 to June 2004 Bertie Ahern presided over the historic enlargement of the European Union to 27 member states including eight countries from Eastern Europe. He led Ireland to take leadership roles on key global issues such as increasing aid to developing countries and tackling the spread of HIV AIDS.
Bertie Ahern’s achievements as a leader at home and abroad have been recognised internationally. He has been conferred with honorary degrees by several universities and is one of only five people to enjoy the great distinction of having been invited to address both the Houses of Parliament at Westminster and the Houses of Congress of the United States in Washington D.C.
The defining moment of this period and a defining moment in Irish history was the successful negotiation by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair of the Good Friday Agreement between the British and Irish Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland in April 1998.
The Good Friday Agreement transformed relations for the better between Ireland and Britain, between Ireland, North and South, and between different traditions within Northern Ireland. It instilled a new ethos of tolerance and respect into politics on the island of Ireland and between diplomatic relationship between the islands of Ireland and Britain.