Award recognises service to Ireland from abroad

Thu, Sep 6, 2012, 01:00

PHILANTHROPIST CHUCK Feeney and former Coca Cola head Donald Keough are among 10 recipients of the first annual Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

The awards are divided into five categories. Under Arts, Culture and Sport, the work of Ottawa-based publican and leading figure in the city’s Irish community, Pat Kelly, was recognised, as were the contributions of French author and academic Pierre Joannon and Dublin-born Australian Rules footballer, the late Jim Stynes.

Awards for Irish Community Support were won by community worker Sally Mulready (Britain) and the executive director of the Boston Irish Immigration Center, Sr Lena Deevy (US). Peace, Reconciliation and Development awards were given to campaigner on HIV and Aids Fr Michael Kelly (Zambia) and chairwoman of the American Ireland Fund, Loretta Brennan Glucksman.

Mr Keough was recognised under the Business and Education heading, along with UK-based businessman Andy Rogers, while Mr Feeney was recognised under Charitable Works.

In a statement, President Michael D Higgins said: “Each of the awardees has distinguished themselves by the long-standing service they have given to Ireland and to the Irish community abroad.”

Explaining the initiative, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said he had made a commitment at the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum to establish an award system which would provide formal recognition by the State to individuals resident abroad. “The award will now be presented on an annual basis,” he said.

Nominees must be habitually resident outside the island of Ireland and have rendered distinguished service to the nation and/or its reputation abroad.

The scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s network of diplomatic missions. The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin on November 15th.