The Maine Irish Heritage Center will present its fifth annual Claddagh Award to former Maine Senator George J. Mitchell for his leadership in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

“We are very proud to honor Sen. Mitchell,” said Mary McAleney, the Center’s Chair.

“It is fitting that the Center pays tribute to him, since next April marks the fifteenth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. That agreement, which he brokered, ended decades of fighting in Northern Ireland. Through his efforts, a generation there has grown up free from the threat of terrorism.”

Sen. Mitchell grew up in Waterville, Maine, the son of Lebanese and Irish immigrant parents. He served as a Federal District Court judge, a Senator from Maine, and as Majority Leader in the United States Senate. In 1995, he was appointed by President William J. Clinton as Special Presidential Advisor on Ireland and as the Independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Peace Talks.

Under his leadership, the Good Friday Agreement was agreed to by the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom, as well as by the political parties of Northern Ireland.

Mitchell has been recognized worldwide for his service in Northern Ireland. In 1999, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the United States government, calling him, “a determined and creative international statesman.” The President went on to say, “Throughout his extraordinary career, George Mitchell has strived to make real his vision of public service: ‘to act for the larger and common good.’"

The Maine Irish Heritage Center presents its Claddagh Award – which represents traditional Irish values of friendship, loyalty and love – each year to an individual of Irish heritage from Maine who has devoted his or her life to serving the community and who has instilled pride in people of Irish roots.

Sen. Mitchell will receive the award at a ceremony on 10th October 2012, 5:30 pm at the Maine Irish Heritage Center.

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Senator George MitchellGetty