independent

Thursday 19 September 2019

Political heavyweights from US to give insight into the new America

Rachael Rollins
Rachael Rollins
Bruce Morrison

David Looby

A pioneering US district attorney and a famous former congressman are among two high profile people who are speaking at this year's Kennedy Summer School.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins will be returning to her Irish roots this September as she takes to the stage at the annual Kennedy Summer School on Saturday, September 7.

Rachael will take to the stage and discuss her extensive career and current position as Suffolk County's District Attorney in a public interview with Dr Robert M. Mauro of Boston College. She will offer her perspective on law and politics in today's America and her determination as the DA of Suffolk County to change and improve the criminal justice system.

The interview will be followed by a panel discussion on US Politics and Election 2020, the panel including renowned American political commentator Cal Thomas, Sarah Elliott, Niall O'Dowd and Michael Lonergan, and will be chaired by Larry Donnelly.

Bruce Morrison is the former Congressman famous for the 'Morrison' Visa. He will be interviewed by Caitríona Perry for the 'Kennedy Summer School Interview' on Friday, September 6. Morrison is a graduate of MIT and Yale Law School, where his classmates included Bill and Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton. A public interest lawyer and Democrat, he was elected to the United States Congress from Connecticut in 1982.

Morrison has a close connection with Ireland. He was raised in Northport, Long Island, by Dorothea and George Morrison, adopted parents of German and Scots-Irish heritage. Morrison gained notoriety in the Irish-American community not only for his role in making Northern Ireland a priority in Washington but for his work on immigration reform. During his last term in Congress, Morrison served as chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee. That year, he authored one of the most comprehensive revisions to the immigration law of the 20th century, and with the help of his allies, including Senator Ted Kennedy, saw it through to legislation.

The resulting legislation, the Immigration Reform Act of 1990 became known as the Morrison Visa and enabled tens of thousands of Irish men and women to emigrate to the US and chase their American dreams.

Subsequent to his tenure in Congress, Morrison was active in the Northern Ireland peace process and was instrumental in helping Gerry Adams to obtain a visa to travel to the US. He has remained an outspoken voice on important issues for Ireland and Irish Americans in his career as an immigration lawyer and lobbyist and features frequently in Irish and American media. In 1992, he supported his old law school classmate in his run for President, serving as co-chairman of Irish Americans for Clinton-Gore, a role he would reprise for the 1996 election.

Morrison continued to provide advice and information to President Clinton throughout his two terms in office. Traveling frequently to Ireland and the North, the former congressman became one of the Americans for a New Irish Agenda; in September 1993, the group made an unprecedented eight-day visit to Northern Ireland, to deepen the understanding of all sides and to communicate the possibility that a cessation of violence would be met with U.S. support.

Beginning on Thursday, September 5, the annual Kennedy Summer School takes place over three days and is set to host a number of expert discussions and is billed as 'A Festival of Irish and American, History, Politics and Culture'. There will be over 50 guest speakers participating over three days on a wide range of different subjects and organisers say that Brexit and Ireland's relationship with the U.S. will feature prominently.

There will be a series of public interviews including an audience with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, distinguished New York Times columnist, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize and author of three New York Times bestsellers, Maureen Dowd, former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland Seamus Mallon, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Micheál Martin TD, Stefanie Preissner, Dick Spring, Mick Wallace, Joan Burton, Michael McDowell and more Politicians, news correspondents, authors and leading global academics and many more will all partake in the 2019 Kennedy Summer School.

The Summer School is run in association with the John F. Kennedy Trust New Ross and with Wexford County Council.

For further details and event tickets see kennedysummerschool.ie or call St. Michael's Theatre on 051 421255.

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