independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Kenny an outside shot to collect EU Nobel prize

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is a long shot to collect the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the EU.

Ireland takes over the Presidency of the EU in the New Year.

The award will be handed over at a ceremony in Oslo in December.

But there was speculation yesterday that the prize will be jointly accepted by the current Presidency, held by Cyprus, and the next Presidency, Ireland.

However, it is not yet clear who will be accepting the award on behalf of the EU and there is expected to be substantial competition between various leaders.

Putting their hat in the ring, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Martin Schulz all welcomed the award.

Government sources had no information on who would actually be accepting the award for the EU, but thought Ireland's involvement would be unlikely.

Asked about the Nobel prize, Taoiseach Enda Kenny quipped: "I'll collect it if they wish, but clearly it is not in my remit to say so or do so.

"In fairness, it is a recognition of the contribution that the 27 leaders would have made around the council table about issues like Libya, in the Middle East or around the world. It is a recognition that the EU has an important part to play."

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore also welcomed the Nobel decision but couldn't shed any light on who would accept the award on behalf of the EU.

Laughing about the speculation, Mr Gilmore light-heartedly said the Government was ready to go if the call came to collect the award.

"Oh, I'm always willing to travel to Oslo but I think those arrangements are matters that have to be decided over time. I'm just happy that the European Union's role in securing, maintaining and promoting peace in Europe has been acknowledged.

EC president Jose Manuel Barroso said the surprise award confirmed the need for a stronger union.

He said the honour -- in recognition of six decades of EU work "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe" -- could not have come at a better time.

"At a moment where the rating of Europe is not always good, this is the kind of rating that we very much appreciate because it is made by an independent institution, the Nobel Peace Prize," he said.

Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said the decision was based on the EU's long-term achievements.

Irish Independent

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