Statement by Minister Cowen on the death of H.E. Archbishop Michael Courtney, Papal Nuncio to Burundi
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D., speaking on his own behalf and on behalf of the officials of the Department of the Foreign Affairs, has expressed his deep sadness at the tragic and untimely death of the Papal Nuncio to Burundi, Archbishop Michael Courtney, who was murdered in Burundi yesterday.
“Archbishop Courtney was well known in the Department of Foreign Affairs as an exceptional diplomat who gave dedicated service to the Holy See in many difficult and challenging postings. Following his appointment as Nuncio to Bujumbura, he worked tirelessly to encourage peace and reconciliation between the main ethnic groups and to encourage the various rebel groups to end their campaign of violence and join the political process. He made a significant contribution to the recent progress in the peace process in Burundi.
Archbishop Courtney was of the greatest assistance to the Irish Government, particularly during Ireland's recent term on the UN Security Council, when Irish officials participated in two Security Council missions to Burundi. He was always ready to offer advice of the highest quality, based on a deep knowledge of the local situation. He was a man devoted entirely to peace.
The Holy See has lost a fine diplomat. Ireland has lost a brave and distinguished citizen. My condolences and those of my officials go to the family and friends of Archbishop Courtney and to his colleagues in the diplomatic service of the Holy See.
We must not forget the people of Burundi. They have lost a close friend who dedicated himself to building a peaceful future for their country. The search for full and lasting peace must go on. The Government, over the coming six months, will seek to ensure that the full weight of the European Union is mobilised behind efforts to bring about a final end to violence in that country. That would be the best tribute that could be paid to the memory of Archbishop Michael Courtney.”