There were mixed reactions around the globe to the news last week that President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

While politicians from Ireland congratulated the president, a former Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner criticized the decision by the Oslo committee on awarding such a high profile award to Obama, who has been in office less than one year.

Mairead Maguire, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke out against Obama’s receipt of the award.

Maguire, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 with Betty Williams for their work promoting peace in Northern Ireland as co-founders of the Community of the Peace People, said she was “very disappointed” to hear that Obama was named this year’s Nobel honoree.

“They say this is for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples, and yet he continues the policy of militarism and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of dialogue and negotiations with all parties to the conflict,” said Maguire, adding the award was give prematurely.

Maguire said Obama has not met the conditions set forth by Alfred Nobel where he “stipulates it (the Nobel Peace Prize) is to be awarded to those who work for an end to militarism and war, and for disarmament.”

Said Maguire, “This is not the first time the Nobel Peace Committee in Oslo has ignored the will of Alfred Nobel and acted against the spirit of what the Nobel Peace Prize is all about.”

Giving such a prestigious award to the leader of the “most militarized country in the world, which has taken the human family, against its will, to war” is giving the wrong message, said Maguire.

“This will be rightly seen by many people around the world, as a reward for his country’s aggression and domination,” she added. 

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brain Cowen congratulated the president on behalf of the people of Ireland.
“I wish to warmly congratulate President Obama on this magnificent achievement,” he said.

Cowen disagreed with critics of the honor, saying, “The Nobel Committee has rightly recognized the president's endeavors in diplomacy.”

Cowen outlined why he thought the American president deserved the prize.

“In his first year of office, President Obama and his administration have sought to address many difficult international challenges and issues. He has worked patiently with countries from the Middle East and elsewhere, at the United Nations, the G20 and with the European Union partners to overcome them,” he said.

“Ireland has consistently supported the need for sustained diplomatic engagement on disarmament and I welcome the U.S. president's efforts in this regard."

Cowen added that the continued engagement of Obama and the U.S. to secure peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland is “deeply appreciated by the government and the people of Ireland.”