A native of Dublin, Ireland, Professor Padraig O’Malley has devoted his life to peacemaking.
And for the past 28 years, the University of Massachusetts Boston has been home to this award-winning author, mentor, and teacher.
O’Malley has served as the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies since 2007. He is the first to hold this position, which is named after Congressman Joe Moakley, whose investigation of the murder of six Jesuits in El Salvador opened the way to a peaceful settlement between the rebels and the Salvadoran government.
McCormack Dean Stephen Crosby describes Professor O’Malley as the embodiment of Chancellor J. Keith Motley’s vision “to have the university engaged in the world around us.”
O’Malley has earned a global reputation for breaking deadlocks by bringing together mortal enemies to sit down and discuss their religious, racial, and political differences. O’Malley helped facilitate:
- The Amherst Conference on Northern Ireland (1975)
- The Historic Good Friday Agreement (1998)
And that’s not all.
In September 2007, O’Malley, in collaboration with Nobel Prize winner Marti Ahtisaari’s Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL), and Tufts University, assembled senior negotiators from Northern Ireland and South Africa to meet in Helsinki with their counterparts from Iraq. The partnership was known as “The Iraq Project”; the meeting became known as “Helsinki I.”
O’Malley spent six months in Baghdad meeting with members of the Iraqi parliament to arrange meetings in Helsinki. There was a second round of talks in April 2008 (Helsinki II), and in July 2008, 36 leaders from all political parties in Iraq met with the same Northern Ireland and South African facilitators and negotiators.
This last session resulted in the “Helsinki Agreement,” a series of principles that became the basis for exploring political reconciliation in Iraq in 2009.
In a lecture at the John F. Kennedy Library in May 2008, O’Malley said, “The Helsinki talks process . . .is based on the simple premise that people from divided societies are in the best position to help those in other divided societies."
Forum for Cities in Transition
During a conference at UMass Boston in April 2009, delegations from four cities -- Derry/Londonderry (Northern Ireland); Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica; Kirkuk, Iraq; and Nicosia (Cyprus) (two municipalities: one Greek-Cypriot and one Turkish-Cypriot) – decided to create a permanent Forum for Cities in Transition. The inaugural conference was held in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica in May 2010; the second at the Guildhall, Derry-Londonderry in May 2011.
O’Malley has received several accolades for his work. He has also written a number of books on Northern Ireland, including The Uncivil Wars: Ireland Today (1983), Biting at the Grave (1990), and Shades of Difference (1990).
A documentary on O'Malley, The Peacemaker, was released in 2016.
Go Inside UMass Boston
- John Joseph Moakley Professor of Peace and Reconciliation
- John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies