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
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.