The outbreak in the late 1960s of sectarian, political and religious conflict in Northern Ireland impacted on Brendan O’Regan.

Having already established at Shannon the Centre for International Co-operation at the height of the Cold War, O’Regan was convinced that the Shannon model could serve to break down divisions in Northern Ireland and remove conflict. He had a belief that adapting the community, tourism and industrial development models employed at Shannon was the way forward. He came to the conclusion that these goals could be more readily achieved if he retired from the company and dedicated more time to his work with non-governmental organisations working for peace.

In 1978, O’Regan founded Co-operation North (later Co-operation Ireland), a non-denominational and non-party political organisation. The goal of the organisation was to overcome violence and unemployment through widespread and ongoing economic, cultural and social co-operation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

He established the Irish Peace Institute at the University of Limerick in 1984. The aim of the institute is to promote peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and to draw on the experience of conflict resolution in order to learn lessons that could inform other conflicts.

With the maxim “Mankind Must Manage World Without War” O’Regan feels that Shannon could be linked to world peace and economic development. He still believes that the world can learn from Ireland on how the role of tourism can play an important part in the international peace process.

1 President Mary Mc Aleese paying tribute to the work of
Co-operation Ireland at a reception held in Aras an Uachtaráin, 2002. She is pictured greeting Brendan O’Regan and Tony Kennedy, Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland.
2 Brendan O’Regan with Dr. Frank Wright, first director of the Irish Peace Institute Desk at the University of Limerick and Dr. Edward Walsh.
3 Dessie O’Malley TD with Brendan O’Regan and Shannon Development Executives at the United Nations Training Workshops on Industrial Free Zones, 5-16 March, 1972,
held at Shannon Free Airport.