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Irish Abroad recognised at Presidential Distinguished Service Awards ceremony.Pictured at the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards ceremony were:
Back row:Fr. Brendan McBride (US), Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, TD, and Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, TD. Tom Moran (US)
Front row:Solicitor Gareth Peirce, Fr. Donal Doyle (Japan), Maureen Murphy (US), Sabina Higgins, President Michael D Higgins, Sr. Dr Miriam Duggan (Kenya), Charles Handy (UK), Niall FitzGerald (UK) and Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru).
“British solicitor and human rights activist Gareth Peirce, Fr. Brendan McBride of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco and businessman and Chair of Concern Worldwide Tom Moran were amongst those honoured with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for 2015 at a ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin this evening (Thursday).The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad honours the work of exceptional people who contribute to Ireland and to Irish communities abroad. The awards are organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with nominations made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s embassy network.
President Higgins this evening presented Awards for 2015 to Mario Vargas Llosa, Fr. Donal Doyle, Niall FitzGerald, Charles Handy, Sr. Dr Miriam Duggan, Fr. Brendan McBride, Maureen Murphy, Gareth Peirce, and Tom Moran. Gabriel Byrne, who could not be in attendance on the evening, was also honoured. The ceremony was attended by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, TD, and Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan, TD.
Speaking in advance of the event, Minister Flanagan said:
“I am delighted that the achievements of these ten remarkable people will be acknowledged by the President tonight. Collectively, they have helped to build and expand our reputation around the globe. Their service and commitment to this country is a shining example to us all and I am delighted that they are being honoured by the President in such a fitting manner.”
“This is the fourth year of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and it is an important acknowledgement by the President, on behalf of all of the people of Ireland, of the significant contribution of those honoured to Ireland and to Irish communities abroad.”Minister for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan added:‘As Minister for the Diaspora I am delighted that the achievements of our global family are being formally recognised tonight. These awards cover a number of diverse categories – from Arts, Culture and Sport; to Business and Education; to Irish Community Support – which reflects the remarkable and wide-ranging contribution of Irish people abroad to their diaspora communities.”The recipients of 2015 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards are:Arts, Culture and SportGabriel Byrne (US)Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)
Business and Education
Fr. Donal Doyle. (Japan)
Niall FitzGerald. (UK)
Charles Handy (UK)
Sr. Dr Miriam Duggan. (Kenya)
Irish Community Support.
Fr. Brendan McBride. (US)
Maureen Murphy (US)
Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Gareth Peirce. (UK)
Tom Moran. (US)
The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is neither an honours system nor does it confer any legal entitlements upon the recipients.
In order to be eligible for consideration, nominees must be habitually resident outside the island of Ireland and are required to satisfy the following additional requirements:
have rendered distinguished service to the nation and/or its reputation abroad;
have actively and demonstrably contributed to Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad in at least one of the categories listed above;
have a track record of sustained support and engagement with Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad over a period of not less than 5 years.
The scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a High Level Panel was established to make recommendations to Government. This Panel includes: Mr Niall Burgess, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Chair), Mr Martin Fraser, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach; Mr Art O’Leary, Secretary General to the President; and four representatives from the non-Government sector- Ms Sally O’Neill Sanchez, Prof Declan Kiberd, Mr Kingsley Aikins and Fr Bobby Gilmore.
Nominations are made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s network of Diplomatic Missions.Short biographies of 2015 Recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards:
Arts, Culture and Sport.Gabriel Byrne. (US)Mr. Byrne is a renowned actor. He has done sterling service as Cultural Ambassador for Ireland and continues to give generously of his time, particularly in supporting the Irish Arts Centre in NYC.Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru)Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, essayist, college professor, and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. By writing ‘The Dream of the Celt’, Mario Vargas Llosa has opened up the story of Roger Casement in a very sympathetic manner to the 650 Million Spanish and Portuguese speakers in the world. This distinguished Nobel laureate has done Ireland and the Irish people a great service by presenting the story of one our national heroes in a context of the fight against oppression that resonates strongly with the peoples of Latin America.Business and Education.Fr. Donal Doyle. (Japan)Fr Doyle has lived and worked in Japan for over fifty years. He established an Irish Studies Programme at the prestigious Sophia University which encouraged students over many decades to visit Ireland thus making friends of Ireland of many hundreds of Japanese people who have now reached the upper levels of Japanese society, in business, administration and the arts.Niall FitzGerald. (UK)Niall FitzGerald has had a distinguished career in business and is among the most prominent Irish business leaders across the world. He is active in promoting Irish sporting and educational causes including Munster Rugby and UCD, where he holds official positions. He was awarded the KBE in 2002 while Chairman of the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever.Charles Handy. (UK)Renowned management guru Charles Handy, who was born in Kildare in 1932, has lived in England for many years. He had a long career in management science, mainly based at the London Business School, and is most famous for his management writings, including ‘The Empty Raincoat’ published in 1994. He and his wife regularly visit Ireland where they are also active in supporting philanthropic projects including in Ballymun and with development charities in East Africa and the West Bank.Charitable Works.Sr. Dr. Miriam Duggan. (Kenya)Sr Miriam Duggan is a member of the Franciscan Sisters and has spent much of her life working in Africa – initially as an obstetrician and laterally in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. She is held in very high regard by her Congregation, the missionary community and the Governments in the countries where she has worked.Irish Community Support.Fr. Brendan McBride. (US)Fr. McBride is President of the Irish Apostolate in the United States. Originally from Donegal, he is also founder and head of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco and has committed his life’s work to serving the Irish community through advocacy and provision of support services and is one of the key leaders in the Irish community’s efforts to bring about immigration reform. Fr. McBride played a central role in providing support to those involved in the recent Berkeley tragedy.Maureen Murphy. (US)Dr. Murphy is Fulbright Fellow at University College, Dublin, and was awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters by the National University of Ireland for her contributions to Irish Studies. She is the Chair of New York’s 2016 Commemorations Committee, the American Irish Historical Society (of which she is a Board member) and with other prominent historical, heritage and community groups on a comprehensive and coordinated programme of commemorative events into 2016 and beyond. Dr. Maureen Murphy has a stellar record of service to the community as an educator, a supporter of young academics and as an advocate for Irish Studies in the United States.Peace, Reconciliation and Development.Gareth Peirce. (UK)Gareth Peirce is a British solicitor and human rights activist. In a career of more than 30 years, she has represented a number of high-profile cases, including the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. Ms Peirce’s contribution to peace and reconciliation is evident in terms of the impact her work has had both in the UK and internationally. Her dedication and commitment to obtaining justice for several Irish people living in Britain who were wrongfully convicted is acknowledged worldwide and has been instrumental in bringing about major changes to the legal system.Tom Moran. (US)Born on Staten Island to Irish American parents, Mr Moran is a hugely successful businessman and well-respected humanitarian. Mr. Moran is the chairman of Concern Worldwide (U.S.) and noted philanthropist when it comes to Irish causes in the arts, culture, business and heritage worlds. Mr. Moran has been an influential voice in the Irish peace process, he developed relationships with social, political and business leaders in Northern Ireland and continues to open doors to promote a new Northern Ireland. He has championed reconciliation between the communities.