The recipient of the 2016 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award will be American political commentator, talk show host, and author Chris Matthews.   The announcement was made at a special reception which was held in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, Buncrana today 23rd June 2016.

Cllr. Nicholas Crossan, Chair of the Tip O Neill Irish Diaspora Award Committee, is delighted that Christopher John Matthews is to be awarded the fifth Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award:  “I am delighted that Chris Matthews is to receive the Tip O’ Neill Irish Diaspora Award, which is presented on an annual basis to a chosen member of the Irish Diaspora in recognition of achievements in their chosen field and their interest in, and support for Ireland and its Diaspora.”

Chris Matthews is a well known American political commentator with strong links to Ireland through the maternal side of his family.   He is best known for his nightly hour-long talk show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, which is televised on the American cable television channel MSNBC.

Chris has had a varied and interesting career.  Having spent time with the Peace Corps in Africa, he returned home to the US and became a presidential speechwriter and top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., for whom this award is named.

In the late 1980s, he switched to full-time journalism, serving as Washington Bureau Chief for the San Francisco Examiner and covered some of the great historic events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland.

He began his career on television in 1994 as host of a two-hour nightly program on the NBC-owned America’s Talking network. Three years later, he launched Hardball, now on MSNBC, which was the title of his best-selling handbook on real-life politics published in 1988.  He has been on the air every weekday night since.

Speaking at the reception Cllr. Terence Slowey, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council said that “Chris Matthews’ faith in electoral politics and his belief that the American people will make the best judgment on who should lead has stood him in good stead through war and peace and in good times and bad. I understand that he continues to have a strong faith in the value of democracy and how it can best serve the people.  This is a quality that I admire greatly.”

The Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award was initiated in 2012 on the centenary of the birth of Thomas P. Tip O’Neill. Tip O’Neill whose maternal grandparents hailed from Donegal (Buncrana and Clonmany) was an American Politician and Statesman who served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1977 until 1987.

Seamus Neely, Chief Executive, Donegal County Council stated “Tip O’Neill was one of the most prominent US Politications of his era with many notable achievements at home and abroad. In an Irish context he was central to the initiation of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and did much to advance the socio-economic regeneration of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of the Republic through initiatives such as the International Fund for Ireland.  I think that it is very fitting that the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award should be presented to a person so closely associated with the late Tip O’Neill and to an individual who has made such a significant contribution to politics not just in the United States but across the world.”

The previous recipients of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award have been, Niall O’Dowd, an Irish New York based journalist and publisher, Brian Schweitzer, former Governor of Montana, Senator Therese Murray, former President of the Massachusetts Senate and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, US philanthropist.

This year’s award will be presented at a gala ceremony in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana on Friday, September 23.