Eamon Dunphy, Bryan Dobson, and Enda Kenny among panellists at 12th annual Kennedy Summer School in New Ross

Former RTÉ pundit Eamon Dunphy will be joined by the former Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at the 12th annual Kennedy Summer School which takes place in New Ross from August 29-31. They are just two of the guests pencilled in for this year’s event, with former taoiseach Enda Kenny, Newstalk journalist Ciara Kelly, and RTÉ stalwart Bryan Dobson also appearing.

The former RTÉ journalist Eileen Dunne is the new chair of the Kennedy Summer School, succeeding Willie Keilthy, and she said this year’s programme promised to be “lively, interesting and entertaining”.

“It is a summer school that was founded in the belief that there was a greater need for public debate, open discussion and a platform for broader context events, places and policy-making which impact Ireland,” she said.I”’m proud to say that it has remained true to its roots in programming such debate, discussion and offering a platform for new and varied viewpoints each year.

Enda Kenny (Photo by Tony Gavin)

“This year the British Ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnston, opens proceedings on August 29, and the Irish Ambassador to the UK, Martin Fraser, closes them on August 31; but in between those two keynotes, we have a robust programme of panel discussions, public interviews, a tea party, a speaker’s lunch and more.”

Among the topics up for discussions are whether Irish emigrants should have a say in Irish politics and a panel discussion of Irish voices on the US presidential election. The Edward M. Kennedy interview will be with former taoiseach Enda Kenny in conversation with Marie-Louise O’Donnell. There will be a forum on crime and anti-social behaviour and a discussion titled, ‘The NATO Divide: perspectives on Ireland’s neutrality and national security’, and, as always, the Irish and the US political panel discussions.

Bryan Dobson. Picture: Frank McGrath

On a lighter note, there will be a panel discussion exploring Bruce Springsteen’s Irish heritage with fans David McCullagh, Ralph Riegel, Lise Hand, Prof Kirk Curnutt and genealogist Fiona Fitzsimons. The ever-popular Kennedy Tea Party guest this year will be the recently retired RTÉ journalist Bryan Dobson.

Director at the Kennedy Summer School and political pundit Larry Donnelly said: “Our Summer School is at a pivotal time of year, just before government returns to the Dáil but also as we head into peak election period in the US. The Biden and Trump camps will feature prominently; we will hear from the inside voices in the US on the preparation for the potential return of Trump and what is going to happen.”

ST-C232-31-63 27JUN1963
President Kennedy attends a reception and tea his ancestral home, home of his second cousin, Mrs. Mary Ryan, in Dungastown, Ireland. Pictured are Josie Ryan, Mrs. Mary Ryan, Mary Ann Ryan and guests. Please credit “Cecil Stoughton, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston”

Some of the leading political expert speakers from both sides of the Atlantic will focus on topical issues in Irish and U.S. politics and participate in debates on a wide range of subjects with the U.S., the UK and NATO. Among those featuring are Dr. Laura Barberena who has made political ads for the Clintons and Barack Obama, Alan Tierney, Mandy Johnston, Sarah Carey, Dr Mark Henry, Hugh O’Connell, Elaine Loughlin, Grainne Ni Aodha, Sean O’Rourke, Stephen Collins, Alison O’Connor, John Downing, Felix Larkin, Frank McNally, Padraic Ó hUiginn, Alison Martin, James O’Keefe, Nicola Tallant, Emma DeSouza, Ciara Kelly, Ian O’Doherty, Maj. Gen. Timothy M. Zadalis, Dr Stacey Connaughton, Senator Gerard Craughwell, Dr Kim Osborne, Peadar Toibin, Sarah Carey, Malcolm Byrne, Dakota S. Rudesill, Greg Swenson and more.

The special guest of honour and speaker for the 2024 annual JFK Summer School Speakers Lunch at the JFK Arboretum luncheon event is Eamon Ryan and a space-themed event titled, “Astro Physics’ will be hosted for schools at the JFK Arboretum with Science Foundation Ireland.

For further details and tickets for the 2024 events see www.kennedysummerschool.ie or call St. Michael’s Theatre on 051 421255. The Kennedy Summer School and Festival is run in association with the Office of Public Works, Failte Ireland, New Ross District Council, Wexford County Council, Purdue University & Boston College.

Simon Bourke
© New Ross Standard

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