Kevin Vickers hailed as next ambassador to Ireland
Politicians Thursday praised the surprise selection of House of Commons Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers as Canada’s new ambassador to Ireland.
The near-universal congratulations included plaudits from former diplomats and foreign affairs experts, who said the honour is a fitting reward for Vickers’ gallantry in helping take down gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to end the Oct. 22 attack on Parliament Hill.
Vickers reacted with the same humility he displayed in the days following the shooting, vowing to do his best as Canada’s newest diplomatic envoy.
“As a Canadian with family on both sides hailing from Ireland, there could be no greater honour. I am humbled by the invitation to serve my country in this way,” he said in a written statement. “You have my word that I will do my best to represent you in Ireland with pride and dignity.”
In Ireland, where you come from does matter, said Colin Robertson, a former senior Canadian diplomat. “So they’ll look at him as somebody, in a sense, returning home. The bottom line is will this appointment serve Canadian interests? And I believe it will.”
Vickers succeeds former Conservative minister Loyola Hearn, who was appointed Canada’s ambassador to Ireland in 2010. Canadian governments have sometimes filled the Dublin post with a political appointee instead of a foreign service officer. But few were quibbling about that Thursday.
Vickers “has vast security experience as a longstanding member of the RCMP and obviously on the parliamentary precinct as well, and significant management experience through his roles on Parliament Hill,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said at an event Thursday in Delta, B.C.
Vickers has been credited with firing the shot that killed Zehaf-Bibeau during a firefight in the Centre Block’s Hall of Honour. That was just down the hall from where the Conservative and NDP caucuses were holding their weekly meetings.
Vickers received a three-minute ovation from MPs in the House of Commons the following day. He quietly nodded his appreciation, appearing close to tears.
House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer thanked Vickers Thursday for his “heroic service to Parliament.” The Commons security team will be led by deputy sergeant-at-arms and director general of Protective Services Pat McDonell until further notice.