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American talk show host to receive Tip O’Neill Award

Chris Matthews.

Chris Matthews.

THE recipient of the 2016 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award will be American political commentator, talk show host, and author Chris Matthews.

The announcement was made at a special reception on Thursday in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel, Buncrana.

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Chris 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.

The Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award was initiated in 2012 on the centenary of the birth of Thomas P ‘Tip’ O’Neill. Tip O’Neill whose maternal grandparents hailed from Donegal (Buncrana and Clonmany) was an American politician and Statesman who served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1977 until 1987.

Councillor Nicholas Crossan, Chair of the Tip O Neill Irish Diaspora Award Committee, said he is delighted that Mr Matthews is to receive the accolade.  

“I am delighted that Chris Matthews is to receive the Tip O’ Neill Irish Diaspora 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,” Cllr Crossan said.

Mr Matthews 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 speech writer and top aide to the legendary Speaker of the House, Thomas P “Tip” O’Neill, Jr, for whom the award is named.

In the late 1980s, he switched to full-time journalism, serving as Washington Bureau Chief for the San Francisco Examiner and covered 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.

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He began his career on television in 1994 as host of a two-hour nightly program on the NBC-owned America’s Talking network. Three years later, he launched Hardball, now on MSNBC, which was the title of his best-selling handbook on real-life politics published in 1988. He has been on the air every weekday night since.      

The previous recipients of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award have been, Niall O’Dowd, an Irish New York based journalist and publisher, Brian Schweitzer, former Governor of Montana, Senator Therese Murray, former President of the Massachusetts Senate and Loretta Brennan Glucksman, US philanthropist.

This year’s award will be presented at a gala ceremony in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana on Friday, September 23.

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