Irish Institute Program to Prepare Members of New Northern Ireland Assembly

(9-8-98) -- Northern Ireland Secretary of State Mo Mowlam announced today that the Boston College Irish Institute will offer a program to assist members of the new Northern Ireland Assembly in preparing for their responsibilities.

Slated to begin next month, "The Task of Government" will be the American component of a larger transition program aimed at helping assembly members and civil servants carry out their duties effectively as Northern Ireland seeks to overcome its troubled past, explained Mowlam at an event held in the John J. Burns Library.

With University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Irish Institute Director Sean Rowland looking on at the event in Burns, Mowlam praised BC's role in Northern Ireland's efforts to foster educational, social, economic and leadership development.

"It isn't the first time Boston College and Fr. Leahy have been so central to this process," Mowlam, the senior British official in Northern Ireland, told the audience, which included about 100 members and guests of the University community and media representatives. "I'm pleased ... to acknowledge the work that Boston College has carried out over the years. The advantage in coming here is [program participants] can learn best practice in delivering services to citizens. They can examine comparisons and build on this. "I am looking forward to a very positive outcome."

The assembly was established through the Good Friday peace accord and will include representatives of all political parties in Northern Ireland.

"The Task of Government," a 14-month program, will be funded in part by the United States Information Agency. Boston College also will provide some funding, as well as administrative and academic resources. The program will begin with a series of seminars in Northern Ireland on Oct. 27-29, at which Prof. Marc Landy (Political Science) will meet with assembly representatives and discuss the program's goals and needs.

Other elements of the program will include visits by program participants to local, state and federal legislative offices and other governmental agencies, and discussions with academic experts - including Boston College faculty - on topics such as legislative relations, federalism and policy analysis. Landy and Rowland will lead a delegation to the assembly next fall to talk about the program and its results.

"Boston College has been actively involved in academic and professional programming in Northern Ireland for many years," said Rowland. "The University has also shown a leadership role in providing a forum for speakers and delegations from a wide range of political groups in Northern Ireland. We are, therefore, well placed to provide programming suited to the political requirements of its participants."

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