Waterford Institute of Technology has conferred an honorary fellowship on Richard M. Daley, the Mayor of Chicago who traces his family history back to Co Waterford.
The conferring took place in Chicago as part of a Waterford trade mission to the United States led by Cllr. Mary Roche, Mayor of Waterford.
Conferring the honorary fellowship – only the 15th ever awarded by the Institute – Prof Kieran R Byrne, President, Waterford Institute of Technology, said: “Mayor Daley has won a well deserved reputation not only in Chicago but across the United States of America and beyond for his leadership of civic life in Chicago during 22 years as Mayor and in his previous roles as a member of the Illinois Senate and as State’s Attorney of Cook County.
“Through a lifetime of public service, Mayor Daley has worked proactively to advance Chicago, helping to deliver a balance between quality-of-life, economic performance and the environment that provides a blueprint for many other cities globally. A forward-looking leader with a commitment to education, he has also done tremendous work at a local community level in Chicago to tackle the low-level problems that impact hugely in the daily lives of citizens but too often stay off the radar at a public policy level.
“Of particular relevance to contemporary Ireland, he has encouraged the people of Chicago to focus on what unites them and to leave aside traditional politics so as to focus completely on problem-solving and arriving at shared solutions. His mayoralty has seen tremendous projects such as Millennium Park and the renovated Navy Pier delivered as Chicago flagships. Given the impact of his fresh approach, it is no surprise that, following his election 22 years ago this month as Mayor of Chicago, Mayor Daley was re-elected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 while he has also received multiple awards.”
Dr. Donie Ormonde, Chairman, Waterford Institute of Technology, added: “Mayor Daley has contributed hugely to Chicago and American life in a public service career spanning more than 40 years. Through this time, he has never lost sight of the importance of equality of opportunity and frequently championed underdogs.
“Importantly from an Irish perspective, Mayor Daley, a very influential figure in US national politics, has also stayed true to his Irish roots. Mayor Daley’s father – Mayor Richard J Daley – visited Co Waterford in May 1964 and unveiled a plaque at the location in Old Parish where his maternal grandfather came from. The conferring of the honorary fellowship on the present Mayor Daley brings this connection full circle as he nears the end of his long and distinguished mayoralty.”
Responding to the citation, Mayor Daley said he would treasure the fellowship and praised the contributions of the Irish and immigrants from other countries to the USA. He said he accepted the award for his family and, especially, his late parents Eleanor and Mayor Richard J. Daley.