Niall O'Dowd

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Niall O'Dowd
Born(1953-05-18)18 May 1953
County Tipperary, Ireland
  • Author
  • Journalist
Spouse(s)Debbie McGoldrick

Niall O'Dowd (born 18 May 1953) in County Tipperary, Ireland [1], is an Irish American journalist and author living in the United States. He was involved in the negotiations leading to the Irish Good Friday Peace Agreement[2]. He is founder of Irish Voice newspaper and Irish America magazine in New York City, as well as overseeing Home and Away newspaper. He is also the founder of IrishCentral, an Irish website which he launched in March 2009.

Early life[edit]

O'Dowd was born in Thurles, County Tipperary in Ireland but moved to Drogheda when he was nine. After attending Drogheda CBS and Gormanston College, he was a student at University College Dublin, gaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977. He emigrated to the United States in June 1978.


He moved to San Francisco where he founded the first new Irish newspaper in California in 50 years, the Irishman Newspaper.[3][full citation needed] [4] In 1985, he moved to New York City where he founded the Irish America magazine, the first ever national Irish American magazine. In 1987, he founded the Irish Voice newspaper, the first successful Irish American newspaper launch since 1928.[5]

He was a founder of the Irish Americans for Clinton campaign in 1991, supporting candidate Bill Clinton for president. He led an Irish American peace delegation to Northern Ireland after Clinton was elected[6] and he acted as intermediary between Sinn Féin and the White House at a critical period in the peace process. He played a key role in securing a US visa for Gerry Adams in February 1994.[7] His role was featured in the book Daring Diplomacy by The Irish Times journalist Conor O'Clery and also in an RTÉ-PBS documentary entitled An Irish Voice.[citation needed] He has created numerous successful business networks through his publications including the Wall Street 50, Business 100, Hall of Fame, Legal 100, Silicon Valley 50 magazine in conjunction with the Irish Technology and Leadership Group, and the Science and Technology 50.[citation needed] He created the US Ireland Forum, a forerunner of the Diaspora forum held by the Irish government in 2009.[citation needed]

He is a close confidante of the Clinton family[citation needed] and served in Hillary's Finance Committee for her 2008 presidential run. In April 2011, at the inaugural Irish America Hall of Fame luncheon, former President Clinton stated that his initial involvement in the Northern Ireland issue has come about through O'Dowd.

He has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Irish Times as well as tabloid publications. He has spoken to groups involved in the Middle East peace process as well as the former Sri Lanka conflict about the importance of diaspora involvement in seeking solutions.[citation needed] A video interview with him on diaspora impact on successful peace processes was used at the US State Department Global Diaspora Conference in May 2011, chaired by Hillary Clinton.

In 2002, his book Fire in the Morning, about Irish people at the World Trade Center during the 11 September attacks, reached number two on the Irish best seller list.[citation needed] O'Dowd was awarded an honorary doctorate by his alma mater University College Dublin in 2004 for his role in the peace process and his work on the Irish American and Irish relationship.[8] O'Dowd was one of the founders of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in 2005,[9] set up to lobby the Congress for immigration reform that would secure working visas for an estimated 25,000 illegal Irish immigrants.

He was named among the state's most influential people by New York magazine in their issue of 15 May 2006. He was featured on the "People You Should Know" segment of the Paula Zahn Now program on CNN in 2007.[10] In January 2008, he was appointed an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. [11]

In March 2009, O'Dowd launched IrishCentral a companion website to his two publications. The launch was attended by then Irish Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. In March 2010 he published his second book An Irish Voice, an autobiography. He became a Huffington Post blogger in September 2010.

In September 2014 the Irish government awarded him the President's Distinguished Services Award[12] He wrote his third book "Lincoln and the Irish - The Untold Story" in March 2017. On March 8th 2018 the Washington Post magazine featured an article on his secret work on the Irish peace process called "The Negotiator" in the print copy and a different copy on line.[13] He was one of the featured subjects in a major book entitled "Nine Irish Lives" also in March 2018 which named the nine Irish-born Americans who contributed the most to America.

Irish Presidency bid[edit]

In early June 2011, O'Dowd announced he was considering becoming a candidate in the 2011 Irish Presidential election, calling himself "an Irish Diaspora voice."[14] According to Walter Ellis, writing in the Irish Times, O'Dowd's goal was call on the power of the Irish diaspora and bring it to bear on the country’s crippled economy. He would rally the world’s wealthiest Irish people and encourage them to invest in Ireland, North and South.[15]

O'Dowd approached Sinn Féin and possibly other Irish parties seeking support. Sinn Féin, though then party president Gerry Adams, stated in mid-June that they had been "lobbied by all the independent candidates" including O'Dowd.[16]

By 27 June, The Irish Echo declared the "Irish presidential field [is] starting to look crowded", citing a comment from O'Dowd saying "The reality is you have to fish where the fish are and the only votes for me are with Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin."[17]

On the same day, Gerry Adams announced Sinn Féin would "will make no decision on whether to back Irish-American publisher Niall O’Dowd or any other independent candidate for the presidency until it decides next month whether to run its own candidate."[16]

On 30 June, O'Dowd stated he would not be running for the office. O'Dowd stated his reasons involved "The logistical challenges of running for an office as an independent against established political parties is incredible."[18][19]

Walter Ellis, writing in The Irish Times remarked that, despite many impressive qualifications, "O'Dowd would not get my vote," calling him "too much of an Irish-American for the Áras."[15]

An Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne poll revealed O’Dowd had been "way down the field of candidates with just 3pc support."[20] Sinn Féin vice-president Martin McGuinness became that party's candidate,[21] with backing from O'Dowd,[22] and came third at 13.7 of the vote. Michael D Higgins was elected President of Ireland (see Irish presidential election, 2011).

"Irish slaves" controversy[edit]

Writing in The New York Times in March, 2017, Liam Stack noted that inaccurate "Irish slavery" claims had been given publicity in mainstream media including Scientific American, Daily Kos, and O'Dowd's IrishCentral.[23] O'Dowd responded with an op-ed stating that "there is no way the Irish slave experience mirrored the extent or level of centuries-long degradation that African slaves went through."[24]

Liam Hogan, among others, criticized IrishCentral for being slow to remove from its website two articles (one of them based on a piece that Scientific American quickly withdrew), and for the editorial's drawing comparisons between indentured servitude and slavery.[24].[25]

Personal life[edit]

O'Dowd is married to Debbie McGoldrick and they have a daughter Alana. He is the brother of the Fine Gael TD, Fergus O'Dowd.[26]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ C. O'Clery, Daring Diplomacy: Clinton's Secret Search for Peace in Ireland, (Dublin, 1997), pp. 13-61.
  3. ^ in an interview on the Marian Finucane show on 22 March 2008, which covered many aspects of his life and his politics "" Check |url= value (help).
  4. ^ "".
  5. ^ Kelly, Keith J (6 June 2007). "Snooze's Dunn may be news". New York Post. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  6. ^ Fionnán Sheahan (2 September 2000). "Irish US leader warns on policing". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  7. ^ Lavery, Jim Dwyer and Brian. "I.R.A. to Give Up Violence in Favor of Political Struggle".
  8. ^ "Presidential award honours services of exceptional Irish abroad". The Irish Post. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Lobby group to help illegal Irish in US". RTÉ. 10 December 2005. Retrieved 24 September 2007.
  10. ^ "Iraq Endgame?; Why D.C. Can't Read; Confession Confusion-PAULA ZAHN NOW". CNN Transcripts. 20 March 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  11. ^ "A former adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism". Irish Post. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  12. ^ Aoife, O'Donnell (30 September 2014). "Minister Flanagan announces recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for 2014". Merrion Street Irish National News Service. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  13. ^ "How an undocumented Irish immigrant became an unofficial U.S. diplomat". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  14. ^ Murphy, Hubert (8 January 2011). "O'Dowd may make bid for president". The Argus. Retrieved 15 July 2018 – via Pressreader. I believe the race for the Irish presidency would be immeasurably broadened by having an Irish Diaspora voice.
  15. ^ a b "O'Dowd too much of an Irish-American for the Áras". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  16. ^ a b "SF to decide on presidential candidate next month". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  17. ^ "Irish presidential field starting to look crowded". Irish Echo. 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  18. ^ O"Dowd, Niall (30 June 2011). "Why I'm not running for Irish president ---a tough decision to pull out of contest". Irish Central. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  19. ^ Barry, Aoife (1 July 2011). "O'Dowd withdraws as presidential candidate". The Journal. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  20. ^ "New York based Niall O'Dowd drops bid to be next President -". Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  21. ^ "McGuinness returns to Stormont". BBC News. 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  22. ^ Martin4President2011 (2011-10-19), Publisher of Irish Voice, Niall O'Dowd, backs McGuinness for President, retrieved 2018-07-14
  23. ^ Stack, Liam (March 17, 2017). "Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too". NY Times. Retrieved July 29, 2018. Mr. O’Callaghan’s work was repeated or repackaged on Irish genealogy websites, in a popular online essay, and in articles in publications like Scientific American and The Daily Kos. The claims also appeared on IrishCentral, a leading Irish-American news website.
  24. ^ a b O'Dowd, Niall (30 March 2017). "Why the Irish were both slaves and indentured servants in colonial America". Irish Central. Retrieved 22 July 2018. The controversy has arisen because some far-right groups have claimed that the experience of Irish slaves was interchangeable with (or even in some cases worse than) the experience of black slaves, and have used that as justification for an array of abhorrent racist statements and ideas. To be clear, there is no way the Irish slave experience mirrored the extent or level of centuries-long degradation that African slaves went through. But the Irish did suffer tremendously and there is a clear tendency to undermine that truth. Adults and children were torn from their homes, transported to the colonies in bondage against their will, and sold into a system of prolonged servitude. Some would even call it slavery.
  25. ^ Hogan, Liam (2017-03-30). "The founder of Irish Central attempts to whitewash their influential role in spreading ahistorical…". Medium. Retrieved 2018-07-31. The most disappointing response came from Irish Central. After a month one instance of their propaganda was removed from the site without comment, explanation or apology. You can access this iteration on the internet archive. Its share count has been wiped but it stood at over 155,000 in March 2016. I assumed that progress had been made, but had it? Another version of the article was then reinstated (without comment) as the primary version in September 2016 and links to the removed version were redirected internally to this one. It has remained on the website ever since and O’Dowd links to it approvingly in his op-ed in March 2017.¶ He therefore not only ignores that the Irish Central media company played a role in spreading these egregious lies to a significant number of people but also seems to suggesting that this article was not ahistorical at all. His recent op-ed disclaims that “there is no way the Irish slave experience mirrored the extent or level of centuries-long degradation that African slaves went through.” But ... that’s exactly what Irish Central have been telling their readers (the site receives 3.5 million unique visitors per month) since 2012.
  26. ^ Quinlan, Ronald (30 June 2013). "Drumm says words taken out of context". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 15 July 2018.

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