SEAN DONLON was Ambassador to the United States (US) from 1978 until 1984 before becoming Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was later Special Adviser to the Taoiseach, John Bruton, before becoming Executive Vice President of the aviation company GPA and a non-executive director of companies in the insurance and aviation financing sectors. Sean was Chancellor of the University of Limerick from 2002 to 2008 and more recently represented Ireland, Denmark, Lithuania and Kosovo as an Executive Director on the Board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. He is Chair of the Press Council of Ireland.
NOEL DORR is a retired Irish diplomat. He served as permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) and Irish representative on the Security Council (from 1981 to 1982), Irish Ambassador in London, and Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He represented Ireland on the official-level working groups that drafted the European Union (EU) treaties of Amsterdam and Nice. He has written books on Ireland and the United Nations. His most recent book, Sunningdale: The Search for Peace in Northern Ireland, was published by the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, in November 2017. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and has an honorary doctorate from the National University of Ireland, Galway.
DERMOT GALLAGHER was one of the Irish Government’s negotiating team at Sunningdale in 1973 before working in San Francisco, at the UN headquarters in New York and in London. In the early 1980s he was seconded to Brussels as Deputy Chef De Cabinet with the European Commission and was later appointed as Ambassador to Nigeria. He became Irish envoy to Washington from 1991 to 1997 and was then Secretary General in the Department of the Taoiseach until 2001, when he became Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs. He retired as Secretary General in 2009 and was nominated as Chairman of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission. He was also appointed Chairman of University College Dublin Governing Authority.
MICHAEL LILLIS joined the Irish Department of External Affairs in 1966. As Counsellor at the Irish Embassy, Washington, DC from 1976 to 1979, he was involved with John Hume in establishing the ‘Four Horsemen’ lobby (Speaker O’Neill, Senators Kennedy and Moynihan and Hugh Carey, Governor of New York) who inspired the President Carter Initiative on Northern Ireland of August 1977, the first position by a US President independent of the UK Government. As Diplomatic Adviser to the Taoiseach 1982 and negotiator of the Anglo-Irish Agreement with the UK (Mrs Thatcher’s) Government from 1983 to 1985, he was also the first-ever Dublin Government official to be permanently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland (from 1985 to 1987) as first Irish Joint Secretary under the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
DR MARTIN MANSERGH, a former diplomat, was Northern Ireland political advisor to three Taoisigh: Charles Haughey, Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern. In the early stages of the peace process he acted as back-channel to the republican movement. He contributed to the negotiation of the Downing Street Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement, particularly the constitutional accommodation. He was subsequently an elected Senator, TD (Member of the Dail) and Minister of State.
DAITHI O’CEALLAIGH joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1973. He served in Moscow, London, Belfast, New York, Helsinki and Geneva as well as in headquarters in Dublin. He spent six years as Ambassador in London, from 2001 to 2007, before retiring in 2009. Since then he has been Director General of the Irish Institute for International and European Affairs, from 2010 to 2013, and Chairman of the Press Council of Ireland, from 2010 to 2016.
TIM O’CONNOR is a former senior Irish diplomat and former Secretary General (Chief of Staff) to the President of Ireland. He worked with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs from 1979 to 2007 and was a senior official of the Irish Government negotiating team in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Thereafter he was the lead negotiator in the talks to identify and establish the cross-border bodies provided for in the Agreement. From 1999 to 2005 he was the Inaugural Southern Joint Secretary of the North–South Ministerial Council, the institution created by the Good Friday Agreement to oversee cross-border co-operation on the island of Ireland. He was Consul General of Ireland from 2005 to 2007, and from 2007 to his retirement from civil service in 2010 he was Secretary General to the President of Ireland. In 2018 he was appointed by the Irish Government to be its representative on the Independent Reporting Commission, whose mission is reporting on efforts to end paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.
SEAN O HUIGINN worked as a career diplomat in the Irish Foreign Ministry between 1968 and 2009, serving successively as Consul General in New York and as Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Copenhagen, Washington, Berlin and Rome. He worked directly on Northern Ireland issues as Counsellor at headquarters in the late 1970s, and as Irish Joint Secretary of the British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference (from 1987 to 1990). He was deeply involved with the peace process as Head of the Anglo-Irish Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs (from 1992 to 1997) and as Ambassador to Washington (from 1997 to 2002).