Honorary Professors of Practice
Bertie Ahern served as Taoiseach from 1997–2008 and played a significant role in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. He also helped to negotiate the return of devolution to Northern Ireland in 2007.
He served as a member of Dáil Éireann (the Irish Parliament) for almost 35 years.
He was first elected to the Dáil (Parliament) in 1977 for the constituency of Dublin-Finglas and he represented Dublin Central from 1981 until 2011.
Bertie 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. He was first elected Taoiseach in June 1997 and was re-elected in June 2002 and again in May 2007.
He retired as Taoiseach 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.
Bertie is a member of Peace Building and Reconciliation Groups worldwide.
He was made an Honorary Professor by Queen’s University Belfast in April 2019.
Andrew Heyn was a UK diplomat for over 30 years. He served as British Consul-General in Hong Kong from 2016-20 and British Ambassador to Myanmar between 2009 and 2013.
He experienced at first hand the democratic reforms in Myanmar from 2010 onwards and the beginnings of the Rohingya crisis.
He was in Hong Kong for the 2019 protest movement and the subsequent imposition of the new National Security Law by China in 2020.
He served as Deputy British Ambassador in Dublin 2005-09 covering the St Andrews Agreement. He is now a regular speaker and media expert commentator on Myanmar, Hong Kong and wider foreign policy issues.
He was awarded an CMG in 2020 and an OBE in 2013. He was made an Honorary Fellow of St Hugh's College Oxford in 2020.
Avila Kilmurray is the Peacebuilding and Migration Executive at Social Change Initiative (SCI) in Belfast. Her work centres on community-based peacebuilding and conflict transformation both in relation to the conflict in Northern Ireland but also to support for inclusive community development and leadership.
Active on women’s issues, anti-poverty initiatives and community development since 1975, Avila’s practice also extends internationally as co-founder of the Foundations for Peace Network - a peer-to-peer support group for locally-based philanthropy in divided societies. She was previously Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (1994-2014). These roles enabled her to research, and focus on, the contribution of philanthropy to peacebuilding.
Avila’s research focuses on community-based conflict transformation and the role of civil society in peacebuilding. She also has a deep commitment to community engagement and hopes to support increased networking between grassroots activism and academia.
Avila has a specific interest in women’s participation: she was a founder member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition and a member of its negotiating team for the Good Friday Agreement (1998). She has particular interest in the contribution and role of women in peace, security and development, reflecting on experience drawn from Northern Ireland to share with activists in many societies facing challenges of violence and polarization. Avila is invited regularly to speak internationally on women’s involvement in decision-making.
Avila holds both a PhD (Institute of Governance) from QUB and an Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University.
A committed activist on issues of conflict transformation and social justice, Avila is interested in enhancing networking between community-based initiatives and academia through identifying opportunities for further research and shared learning.
She also brings an expertise on post-conflict re-integration and reconstruction issues, particularly as affecting often marginalised and excluded communities and groups.
Chris Maccabe is a former Political Director of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). Early in his career he served as a Private Secretary to the Chief Minister of Northern Ireland during the short-lived power sharing Executive in 1974; and later as Private Secretary to the Deputy Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Between 1988 and 1991 he was a Director of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
In 1992 he became head of Political Affairs in the NIO, and subsequently its Political Director in Belfast, an appointment coupled with the role of Joint Secretary of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
In 2004 he was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) by HM The Queen; and is a former Chairman of the Board of Governors of Victoria College Belfast.
Since retiring from the NIO he has given advice and assistance to the governments of Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Lebanon, Colombia, Cameroon and the Basque Country, among others, on the intricacies of peace processes and political development, including direct engagement with members of paramilitary groups. He is currently a director of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building.
Michael served as the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland from July 2012 to July 2019.
He was previously Chief Inspector of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate in Northern Ireland.
He was appointed a CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire – in the 2019 Birthday Honours.
Michael was made an Honorary Professor by Queens University Belfast in April 2019.
Rory Montgomery is a former Irish diplomat who served as Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador to France and Second Secretary General at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs with particular responsibility for Brexit.
He has been principal EU adviser to Enda Kenny and Simon Coveney and has worked extensively with Irish, Northern Irish, British and European politicians and officials. He was part of the Irish team which negotiated the Good Friday Agreement. He is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.
Since his retirement, he has published articles on subjects including Margaret Thatcher, the state of the EU, Brexit, a united Ireland, and the history of Irish foreign policy.
Honorary Professor, Jonathan Powell, was Chief of Staff to Tony Blair from 1995 to 2007 and from 1997 to 2007 was also Chief British Negotiator on Northern Ireland.
He is Director of Inter Mediate; from 1978-79 he was a broadcast journalist with the BBC and Granada TV and from 1979 to 1994 a British Diplomat.
He is author of Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland, The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World and Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflict. Find out more about Jonathan Powell.
Peter Sheridan has been CEO of the Peace Building Charity Co-operation Ireland since 2008. The all-Island organisation works at both a strategic and grass roots level.
In 2011, it enabled the first state visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Republic of Ireland and the reciprocal visit of the President of Ireland to the United Kingdom.
In 2012, the organisation helped facilitate the historic handshake between the Queen and then deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness.
From 1976 to 2008 he was a police officer in Northern Ireland, where before retiring he had responsibilty for murder and organised crime investigations.