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First Presidential Distinguished Service Awards ceremony

President Michael D. Higgins awarded the first of the new Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad in Aras An Uachtarain this evening.

The Government decided on 6 March 2012 to establish a new system of State recognition for persons living abroad, primarily Irish citizens, those entitled to Irish citizenship and persons of Irish descent, who have made a sustained and distinguished service to Ireland or Irish communities abroad. This award is known as the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

Nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland's network of Diplomatic Missions. spoke to two of the recipients at the awards ceremony...

Paying tribute to the 2012 recipients, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said:

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad acknowledges the many ways in which our Diaspora make contributions to Ireland. In their own separate ways, each of these individuals have made a remarkable contribution to Ireland and our international reputation. I am deeply grateful for their service and commitment to this country. This annual conferring by the President will be a fitting acknowledgement of that vital contribution.

The ten recipients of this years' awards were:

Arts, Culture and Sport:

Mr Pat Kelly (Canada)

Mr Pierre Joannon (France)

Mr Jim Stynes (deceased, Australia)

Business and Education:

Mr Donald Keough (United States)

Mr Andy Rogers (Britain)

Charitable Works:

Mr Chuck Feeney (United States)

Irish Community Support:

Ms Sally Mulready (Great Britain)

Sr Lena Deevy (United States)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development:

Fr Michael Kelly (Zambia)

Loretta Brennan Glucksman (United States)

Watch the first Awards ceremony in full: