CFP mourns the loss of a great champion of peace and reconciliation, Norman Houston, who died suddenly on January 12th, 2021, aged 62. Norman was the Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC – the Belfast government’s top diplomat to the United States and Canada – from 2007 to 2019, and served as Deputy Director at the time of the 1990s peace negotiations and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland could not have had a better representative, or a harder working one than Norman. For all of us in North America he came to symbolize the new Northern Ireland – a place no longer of conflict but of great energy, creativity and opportunity.
Always recognizing the vital importance of empowering young people, Norman was a strong supporter and, in the early 2000s, a board member of CFP’s original organization, the Children’s Friendship Project for Northern Ireland. Drawing on his extensive range of connections, he enriched CFPNI’s youth leadership program, and helped CFPNI secure access to much needed funding. In 2019 Norman received the Order of the British Empire from the Queen, in recognition of his valuable contribution to public service. He made a difference to the lives of many people, and will be sorely missed. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, especially his children Chloe and Connor.
Current CFP Board member and fellow Northern Irishman John McKinney shares: ‘Norman was the person who willingly and unfailingly used his extensive network to open influential doors in Washington for anyone visiting on a mission from NI. His manner was gracious and gentle and made strangers feel friends as soon as he met them. I was fortunate to avail of his generosity of time and access to his network in the political and business community during many visits to Washington both pre and post the Good Friday agreement. Nothing was too much trouble – “ how can I help you?” was his approach every time. Thank you, Norman, may you Rest in Peace.’
John McKinney M.Sc. OBE.