Mitchell To Receive Liberty Medal
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, architect of the historic Northern Ireland peace accord, was named the 1998 recipient of the Philadelphia Liberty Medal on Tuesday.
Mitchell will accept the medal and its accompanying $100,000 at Independence Hall as part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration, the medal selection commission said in announcing its choice.
Established 10 years ago to recognize the founding principles of the United States, the medal also has been given to former President Jimmy Carter, former Polish President Lech Walesa and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk.
``After 30 years of bitter and bloody divisions, a courageous, nonviolent transformation in Northern Ireland seems imminent. Senator George Mitchell has been both a vital catalyst and a patient shepherd to the peace negotiations,″ selection commission Chairman Martin Meyerson said.
After 22 months of negotiations overseen by Mitchell, all eight participating parties accepted an accord this month that carries hopes for ending 30 years of bloody rivalries between Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants.
Residents will vote on the historic accord for divided Northern Ireland on May 22, deciding whether they want Catholics and Protestants to share power in a new legislature and to join in cross-border policy-making with the Republic of Ireland.
Mitchell, 64, was traveling overseas and could not be reached for comment. A Democrat, he became a U.S. senator from Maine in 1980 and served as majority leader from 1989 to 1995.