Twelve Irish-Australian women awarded for political achievements

‘Women of Irish heritage have contributed enormously to making Australia what it is today’

Twelve Irish-Australian women will receive awards for achievements in politics and the trade union movement on Friday at a ceremony in Sydney.

They include Susan Ryan, former Australian senator and the country's first age discrimination commissioner; Ursula Stephens, Wicklow-born former Australian senator and president of the New South Wales Labor Party; and Karen McKeown, mayor of Penrith.

The awards will be presented by Jane Connolly, consul general of Ireland, and Ged Kearney, president of the trade union umbrella group, the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

A video message from the Tánaiste Joan Burton will be broadcast during the event.

This is the first year the Brigid Awards have been held, and next year they will be broadened out to include Irish-Australian women active in sport, business and the arts, according to Irish Friends of Labor, the group organising the event.

"Women of Irish heritage have contributed enormously to making Australia what it is today. These awards are about recognising that work but it is also about encouraging a new generation of women to participate and contribute," said Senator Deborah O'Neill, patron of the Irish Friends of Labor.

Money raised from the event will go towards supporting women candidates running for the Australian Labor Party during the upcoming general election, which must be held in or before January 2017.

The event is named after Saint Brigid, whose feast day falls close to the ceremony on February 1st and who represents strong, independent women, according to organisers.

The full list of award winners includes:

The Hon Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner and former Australian Labor Party senator

Dr Tricia Marie Kavanagh, former deputy president of the Industrial Relations Commission

Ursula Stephens, former member of the Australian Senate, former president of the NSW Australian Labor Party

Kayee Griffin, former member of NSW parliament upper house

Siobhan Armson-Graham, Young Labor activist

Jude Cooke, Blue Mountains trade union activist

Anne Faraday, Goulburn Australian Labor Party activist

Dee Madigan; Creative Director of the 2013 Federal Australian Labor Party and 2015 Queensland campaigns

Karen McKeown, Mayor of Penrith

Tara Moriarty, secretary of the Liquor & Hospitality Division of United Voice NSW and senior vice president of the NSW Australian Labor Party

Patricia Okon, Order of Australia recipient; longstanding community and Australian Labor Party activist

Noreen Solomon, longstanding Australian Labor Party activist and candidate.

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