President Higgins, seated center in front, presided over the presentation of the awards at his official residence. Maxwell Photography for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
By Irish Echo Staff
Eleven outstanding members of the worldwide Irish diaspora were presented with Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad at a ceremony Thursday evening at Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin.
The awards honor the work of exceptional members of the global Irish diaspora who contribute to Ireland and to Irish communities abroad.
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The awards are organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with nominations made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s global embassy network.
President Michael D. Higgins presented the 2016 awards to Angela Brady, Sir Terry Wogan (presented posthumously), Robert Kearns, Gerald Lawless, Norman McClelland, Nora Higgins, Brendan Fay, Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, Martin Von Hildebrand Mulcahy, Sr. Mary Sweeney and Garret FitzGerald.
Winners Walsh D’Arcy, Fay, McClelland and Fitzgerald are all based in the U.S. Robert Kearns is based in Canada.
The ceremony was attended by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh and Sabina Higgins, wife of the president.
Said Minister Flanagan: “I am delighted that once again we have the opportunity to recognize the significant contributions of these members of our diaspora to Ireland, the Irish community abroad and Ireland’s reputation.
“In today’s ever changing world, this remarkable group of individuals have been constant in demonstrating the best values of Ireland.
“This year, for the first time, awards will be presented in the category of Science, Technology and Innovation, reflecting both the important place of this sector in our dynamic economy and Ireland’s track record of achievement in this area.
“Receiving an Award in this category is Garret FitzGerald who, in his role as a globally recognized research physician and scientist, has continued to be an active member of our diaspora and is closely engaged in facilitating scientific endeavor in Ireland.
Minister for Diaspora Affairs and International Development, Joe McHugh, said: “This year’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award recipients signify the breadth and richness of our diaspora.
“They include those working with the most marginalized and vulnerable, those who have become the voice for those who have none.
“Through their work as community activists for many years in New York, Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy have secured rights and recognition for LGBT members of the Irish community.
“And, in the very challenging environment of Sierra Leone, Sr. Mary Sweeney has worked tirelessly for local communities and most recently she has played a significant role in coordinating a response to the Ebola epidemic.”
The full list of recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards in 2016 are:
Arts, Culture and Sport: Angela Brady (UK) Sir Terry Wogan (Deceased – UK) – presented posthumously.
Business and Education: Robert Kearns (Canada), Gerald Lawless (UAE).
Charitable Works: Norman McClelland (US).
Irish Community Support Nora Higgins (UK), Brendan Fay (US), Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy (US).
Peace, Reconciliation and Development: Martin Von Hildebrand (Colombia), Sr. Mary Sweeney (Sierra Leone).
Science, Technology and Innovation: Garret FitzGerald (US).