2003 Dodd Prize Recipients

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, T.D., Prime Minister of Ireland

Bertie Ahern was born into a working-class family in Dublin in 1951. He attended St. Aidan’s CBS secondary school, the Rathmines College of Commerce and University College-Dublin.

Ahern was elected to the Dáil (Parliament) in 1977 for the constituency of Dublin-Finglas and has represented Dublin Central since 1981. He served as a member of Dublin City Council 1978-88 and was Lord Mayor from 1986-1987. Returning to national government, he served as Minister for Labour, 1987-91, Minister for Finance, November 1991-94. Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, November-December 1994 and Minister for Industry and Commerce, January 1993. He also served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) from November-December 1994.

Ahern became head of Fianna Fáil (political party) in 1994 and was leader of the opposition until 1997, when he succeeded John Bruton as prime minister. Heading a Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat coalition. Ahern helped to negotiate a cease-fire by the Irish Republican Army, and in 1998 he helped broker the Good Friday Peace Agreement in Northern Ireland. He was re-elected Taoiseach on 6 June 2002, following a general election which saw his party Fianna Fáil returned to power in coalition with the Progressive Democrats.

Read Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s Speech.

The Right Honourable Tony Blair, M.P., Prime Minister, First  Lord of the Treasury, and Minister for the Civil Service

Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh in 1953, but spent most of his childhood in Durham. He attended Fettes College and studied law at Oxford University.

After standing unsuccessfully for the Labour Party in a by-election, Blair went on to win the seat of Sedgefield in the 1983 General Election, aged 30. He made a speedy rise through the ranks, being promoted first to the shadow Treasury front bench in 1984. He subsequently served as a trade and industry spokesman, before being elected to the Shadow Cabinet in 1988 where he was made Shadow Secretary of State for Energy. In 1989 he moved to the employment brief. After the 1992 election Labour’s new leader, John Smith, promoted Blair to Shadow Home Secretary. It was in this post that Blair made famous his pledge that Labour would be tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.

John Smith died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1994, and in the subsequent leadership contest Tony Blair won a large majority of his party’s support. The Labour Party won the 1997 General Election by a landslide, after 18 years in Opposition. At the age of 43, Tony Blair became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. The government began to implement a far-reaching programme of constitutional change, putting the question of devolution to referendums in Scotland and Wales.One of Prime Minister Blair’s first acts of office was to make an extended trip to Northern Ireland to meet leaders representing a variety of political parties and express his support for bringing about a lasting peace. He also brought the Sinn Fein movement into the peace process significantly broadening participation and support. Prime Minister Blair played an active role in supporting the peace negotiations carried out by Senator George Mitchell and leaders of Northern Ireland that resulted in the Good Friday Peace Accord signed on April 10, 1998.

Tony Blair was re-elected with another landslide majority in the 2001 General Election.

He is married to the barrister Cherie Booth QC, and they have four children. Their youngest, Leo, was the first child born to a serving Prime Minister in over 150 years.

Tony Blair’s Speech (Speech Delivered by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on Behalf of the Prime Minister Tony Blair)

2003 Dodd Prize Ceremony Photo Collection