POLITICS

Kevin Vickers Named Canada's Ambassador To Ireland

01/08/2015 09:42 EST

Kevin Vickers, the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms lauded as a hero for his role in stopping the gunman who attacked Parliament Hill in October, has been named Canada's next ambassador to Ireland.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally announced the appointment Thursday, saying Vickers' credentials will be now be put forward to Michael Higgins, president of the Republic of Ireland.

"Kevin Vickers has shown profound leadership and dedication to the security of Canada and its national institutions," Harper said in a statement. "His extensive experience working with Parliament, as well as his bravery and integrity, will serve to deepen close bilateral relations between Canada and Ireland in the years ahead."

In a statement of his own, Vickers said he is "humbled" by the invitation to serve his country.

"As a Canadian with family on both sides hailing from Ireland, there could be no greater honour,'' he said.

An Irish-Canadian from New Brunswick, Vickers, 58, joined the the House of Commons security staff in 2005 and became sergeant-at-arms in 2006. He became a household name and was seen as something of a Canadian folk hero after the attack on Parliament Hill last fall.

Many politicians said the 29-year veteran of the RCMP saved their lives by firing on Michael Zehaf-Bibeau after he stormed Parliament. Vickers is credited with killing Zehaf-Bibeau, who murdered Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar told The Canadian Press Thursday that Vickers will be missed on Parliament Hill.

"For the last eight years, Mr. Vickers has been a strong and reassuring presence in the House of Commons,'' Dewar said. "I know that he will continue to represent Canada with poise and honour as a diplomat.''

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also took to Twitter to share best wishes.

But Vickers' heroism also sparked international attention.

French President Francois Hollande praised him during an address to Canada's Parliament in November.

"I salute the courage of Kevin Vickers, who is known all across the world," Hollande said.

Vickers was also feted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to Jerusalem in November.

He will replace former Conservative MP and cabinet minister Loyola Hearn, who was appointed to the role in 2010.

The news of Vickers' appointment was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews online.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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