Prof Richardson an 'admirer' of Higgins as she acknowledges apology

Prof Richardson An 'Admirer' Of Higgins As She Acknowledges Apology
Professor Dame Louise Richardson said she considered the matter closed. Photo: PA Images
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Cillian Sherlock, PA

Professor Dame Louise Richardson, the chairwoman of the Consultative Forum on International Security Policy, has said she is “an admirer” of President Michael D Higgins.

Her comments follow an interview in the Sunday Business Post where President Higgins criticised the line-up of those invited to speak at the forum.


Mr Higgins had also referred to Prof Richardson as a person with a “very large letter DBE” (Dame Commander of the British Empire) after her name.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the first day of the forum, Prof Richardson characterised the statement as a “throwaway remark” and added the President had “apologised fulsomely and graciously”.

She said: “As far as I’m concerned the issue is closed.”

Pressed on other comments made by Mr Higgins criticising the forum as a “drift towards Nato”, she said: “I’m not going to get into a public row with the President, I think that would be inappropriate. I’m here as an independent chair.”


She said she did not detect any drift towards Nato.

Prof Richardson said the remarks have probably drawn more attention to the forum and the success of the proceedings is based on increasing engagement.

Asked if the list of contributors was too hawkish, she said “they didn’t describe me as hawkish, on the contrary”.

She also said it was apparent from forum discussions that people were using neutrality in different contexts and she hoped the proceedings would contribute to a broader discussion and understanding of the topic.


Prof Richardson said criticism of her role as chairwoman in the run-up to the Consultative Forum on International Security involved views being attributed to her which are antithetical to her own opinions.

She also responded to criticism of her British honour.

She said: “On the damehood, I think it is really unfortunate to criticise that, but I knew it was a sensitive subject.”

Prof Richardson said she was nominated for her roles in improving access to education for poor children and the rollout of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.


She added: “I am so proud of that.”

She said the honour recognised the work of the other people on the vaccine team.

“It would have been extraordinarily churlish not to accept that honour.”

She said it was “implausible, silly, unfair and unwise” to suggest an Irish person should lose that identity by accepting a damehood.


Her comments follow the ejection of several demonstrators by gardai during the opening session of the security forum, Prof Richardson said she fully respected the right to protest, but added it was unfortunate that demonstrators attempted to “drown out the voices of others”.

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