Top prize at O2 Ability Awards goes to Aura Sports, Mayo council


Aura Sports & Leisure Management and Mayo County Council were last night named the overall winners of this year's O2 Ability Awards for their commitment to employing and facilitating people with disabilities.

The awards, now in their third year, were presented by President Mary McAleese, O2 Ireland chief executive Danuta Gray,Denis O'Brien, Dermot Desmond and Eddie Jordan at a ceremony in Dublin Castle last night.

Winners were also named in each of the six categories, with Microsoft taking the accolade for leadership and Galway's Eye Cinema topping the customer service and environmental accessibility categories.

The recruitment and selection category was won by Kernan's Centra in Donegal, while Irish Life & Permanent took the top honours for learning, development and progression. Eircom was winner in the retention and wellbeing category and a new award for best small company went to the McDonald's Drive Thru franchise in Shannon.

Addressing delegates at the ceremony before the presentation of the awards, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin welcomed the fact that more and more companies were contesting the awards.

Mr Martin said: "These awards play an important role in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities and are testament to what can be achieved with the right combination of determination and effort."

More than 100 organisations took part this year, with 50 of those being recognised in one or more of the six categories.

All participants were subject to a four-month assessment by disability management consultants Access Ability, as well as three days of judging by experts in areas such as equality and disability management.

Caroline Casey, founder and chief executive of the Aisling Foundation, which organised the awards in conjunction with O2 Ireland, stressed the importance of highlighting the disability business case and called on business leaders to help drive change. "We need role models and leaders to step up and be counted," she said.

The awards will be shown on RTÉ 1 at 10.45 tonight.