Development & Alumni Relations Office 


12 April 2017

Queen’s University students have secured six of the thirty leadership places available on the prestigious 2017 Washington Ireland Programme (WIP), to build the next generation of leaders across Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The successful candidates were chosen following a rigorous application process. Over 380 applications were received from 19 different universities and colleges on the island of Ireland and beyond for the twelve month programme.

Founded in 1995, the Washington Ireland Programme includes a two month summer internship in Washington D.C. where students gain leadership training and experience in an area matched to their skills and interests. Previous students have interned in the offices of the then U.S. Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The WIP Class of 2017 was announced last month in Washington D.C., when Sir Malcolm McKibbin (Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service) – who will receive an honorary degree from Queen’s later this year – remarked: “The Programme has had the support of the Northern Ireland Executive for almost ten years.

“In that time we have been committed to ensuring that young people have access to opportunities that will challenge their beliefs; that will push them academically and professionally out of their comfort zone; and which will allow them to grow into determined, passionate and respected young leaders.”

Queen’s WIP ‘17 student Cordelia McGeown said: “WIP offers students a real opportunity to make a difference in this world, to make connections and networks. I’m delighted to have been offered this opportunity and will definitely make the most out of it.”

Fellow WIP intern Robert Murtagh said: “I’m really excited to be selected for this programme and I hope that through this experience I will develop the skills to be able to move Northern Ireland forward from a post-conflict society to one that celebrates diversity, and that puts equality of all people at the fore. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of how change happens, learning from those who have been at the heart of making that difference.”

Community involvement is at the heart of the programme and for the majority of WIP alumni, this extends far beyond a year-long commitment. Philip Murray, a Washington Ireland Programme alum who graduated from Queen’s in 2012, said: “Being part of WIP really helped me to think more about how I can play an active role in my community. I learnt so much through the Programme and I’m glad I can use the skills and connections made to contribute positively to the community.”

Prominent WIP alumni include members of the Irish Government, Northern Irish Executive and Northern Ireland Assembly. WIP alumni from Queen’s University include former Justice Minster Claire Sugden and former DUP MLA Emma Pengelly.

The six successful Queen’s students are:

  • Tara Grace Connolly – Law with Politics (Chair of the NI Youth Forum Executive Committee)
  • Cordelia McGeown – History and International Relations (NI rep at the Council of Europe’s World Democracy Forum on Education)
  • Kyle Moutray – History (Tearfund and the Royal British Legion volunteer fundraiser)
  • Robert Murtagh – Politics, Philosophy and Economics (Student Council rep on Queen’s Senate)
  • Kiera Oluwunmi – Law with Politics (Compassion Belfast and Women’s Aid volunteer)
  • Rachel Watters – Law (NUS-USI Women’s Committee member)

For over two decades, WIP has played an important role in post-conflict Ireland by bringing together young leaders from a wide range of communities and backgrounds for an outstanding leadership and skills-development program.

WIP participants are challenged and equipped to reach their full potential in embodying the two core principles of WIP – service and leadership.

Media inquiries to Suzanne Lagan, Communications Officer at Queen's University Belfast, on telephone: +44 (0)28 9097 5292.

Caption: The six students from Queen’s who have been selected for the prestigious Washington Ireland Programme to build the next generation of leaders across Northern Ireland and Ireland are: (L – R) Kyle Moutray, Rachel Watters, Cordelia McGeown, Kier Oluwunmi, Tara Grace Connolly and Robert Murtagh.

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