Steelers Chairman and former US Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney has been formally presented with the 2013 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. He is one of 10 recipients to receive the award, which was established following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum, and is presented to Irish citizens or those of Irish descent who live outside of Ireland.
“All of these people have rendered distinguished service to our nation and helped to build our reputation around the globe,” said Tánaiste (Deputy PM) and Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Eamon Gilmore. “Their contribution is immeasurable.”
Ireland's President, Michael D. Higgins, presented the award to Rooney, who was cited for his contribution to Peace, Reconciliation and Development.
“I am very humbled to receive this because so many people were involved with bringing peace to Ireland,” said Rooney. “It’s not just what I did. It’s what so many people did to bring the peace over there.”
Rooney helped to foster peace in Ireland during the 90s, which culminated with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and during the period from July 2009-December 2012, when he was United States Ambassador to Ireland.
“It’s just great. It’s a real plus,” said Rooney, according to Steelers.com.
“It’s not finished. There are some splinter groups that get back to violence. But the Good Friday Agreement, the people accepted this agreement and changed in that they let it be known they did not like the violence, that is was wrong, and you had to approach things through a peaceful manner. On a whole it’s worked. They have really done well.”
While serving as ambassador, Roovey visited all of Ireland's 32 counties.
“The idea of the visits to the 32 counties was to let the people know that America cared,” said Rooney. “We wanted to do the right thing. I would have a town hall meeting where everyone was invited and we would have good discussions and not everyone agreed with each other, but we worked through a lot of issues.”