Tag Archives: John Kennedy Lecture

President of Ireland launches new John Kennedy Lecture Series at University of Manchester – April 2024

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, receives honorary degree from The University of Manchester and launches new lecture series.

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, visited The University of Manchester this week and spent two days on campus, during which he has been presented with an honorary degree and gave the inaugural lecture of the John Kennedy Lecture Series to invited guests.

On Tuesday 23 April, President Higgins attended a conferral dinner at The Whitworth during which he was presented with his honorary degree. In 2011, Michael D. Higgins was inaugurated as the ninth President of Ireland and re-elected in November 2018 to serve a second term in office. The President undertook postgraduate studies at The University of Manchester from 1968 -1971. 

Speaking at the conferral ceremony, President Higgins said: “The conferral of a Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) from this esteemed University is an honour I very much appreciate, receiving it as I do in what is a very special year for The University of Manchester as it celebrates its 200th anniversary. This honour that you have bestowed on me has a particular personal resonance, given my family connections with Manchester. My two sisters came to Manchester in the late 1950s and married and reared their families here. This was followed by my own experience as a postgraduate student at this University in the late 1960s, times of hope and promise. 

“This period and the work of scholars I met and worked with instilled in me a profound and lifelong interest in migration. This honour I accept today, not just for myself, but for all migrants and those who study and care for them.”

A passionate political voice, a poet and writer, academic and statesman, human rights advocate, promoter of inclusive citizenship and champion of creativity within Irish society, Michael D. Higgins has previously served at every level of public life in Ireland, including as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Speaking about the visit Professor Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University said: “In conferring an honorary degree upon President Higgins and looking forward to his lecture we celebrate power of sharing knowledge to unite us and inspire change. It is especially important during our bicentenary year in which we celebrate 200 years of our incredible people and community and look toward the future.”

On Wednesday 24 April, The President delivered the first of a new annual series of lectures at The University of Manchester named the John Kennedy Lecture Series. The lecture series will run for five years as part of the University’s School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. The lectures will promote topics related to the island of Ireland. The lecture will be live streamed and available to watch online.

The title of the inaugural lecture, presented by President Higgins is: ‘Of the consciousness our times need in responding to interacting crises and the role of Universities as spaces of discourse in facilitating it.’

The President’s lecture touched on themes including; Universities providing grounds for thinking freely and empowering students to think freely for the betterment of society and especially their own societies.

The new lecture series is so named in honour of Dr John Kennedy CBE. Dr Kennedy was brought up in a large family in Ireland, he came to Northwest England and founded John Kennedy Civil Engineering. Over the next three decades, turnover grew from £10,000 to £60 million, making it one of the UK’s most successful construction and engineering companies. 

Commenting on the inaugural lecture of the John Kennedy Lecture Series at The University of Manchester, Dr John Kennedy, said: “It is an honour and tremendous pleasure to welcome the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to the first in this new series of lectures. I am very proud to not only support education in the UK but in particular to be alongside The University of Manchester as it celebrates its 200th anniversary and remains a pioneering centre of excellence and achievement. I knew  the  lecture would be inspiring and thought provoking at a time when the world is in need of peace and wisdom.”

Bertie Ahern to deliver 11th John Kennedy Lecture

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.