‘Hardball’ host Matthews named for O’Neill Diaspora Award
American political commentator, talk show host, and author Chris Matthews has been named the recipient of the 2016 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award. The announcement was made late last month at a special reception at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana.
“I am delighted that Chris Matthews is to receive the award, which is presented on an annual basis to a chosen member of the Irish Diaspora in recognition of achievements in their chosen field and their interest in, and support for Ireland and its Diaspora,” said Nicholas Crossan, chair of the award panel.
Matthews is a well known American political commentator with strong links to Ireland through the maternal side of his family. He is best known for his nightly hour-long talk show, “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” which is televised on the American cable television channel MSNBC.
Chris has had a varied and interesting career. Having spent time with the Peace Corps in Africa, he returned home to the US and became a presidential speechwriter and top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., for whom the diaspora award is named.
In the late 1980s, he switched to full-time journalism, serving as Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner and covering some of the great historic events of the late 20th century, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday peace talks in Northern Ireland.
Speaking at the reception Cllr. Terence Slowey, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council said that “ Chris Matthews’ faith in electoral politics and his belief that the American people will make the best judgment on who should lead has stood him in good stead through war and peace and in good times and bad. I understand that he continues to have a strong faith in the value of democracy and how it can best serve the people. This is a quality that I admire greatly.”
The Diaspora Award was initiated in 2012 on the centenary of the birth of Thomas P. Tip O’Neill, whose maternal grandparents hailed from Donegal (Buncrana and Clonmany). A Cambridge, Mass., native, he served as speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1977 until 1987.
Previous recipients of the award have been Niall O’Dowd, an Irish New York based journalist and publisher, Brian Schweitzer, former governor of Montana, Therese Murray, former president of the Massachusetts Senate, and philanthropist Loretta Brennan Glucksman. Matthews will receive his award at a gala ceremony in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel on Fri., Sept. 23.