Irish president Michael D Higgins has led tributes to Team Ireland’s Paralympic team and their outstanding performance at the London Games.
The team arrived home to Dublin airport on Monday night to a hero’s welcome, with their impressive haul of eight gold, three silver, and five bronze medals.
President Higgins described the Paralympic athletes as an inspiration for their fellow Irish citizens.
"Their courage, commitment and sporting prowess will live long in the hearts and minds of the Irish people," he said. "I look forward to meeting them in Aras an Uachtarain in the near future and to congratulating them in person."
Irish runner Michael McKillop was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award during the spectacular closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night. The accolade, which was first established in 1988, is given to two athletes who best exemplified the spirit of the Games.
The Irish President said the gold winning performance of McKillop, Jason Smyth, Mark Rohan, Darragh McDonald, and Bethany Firth were "brave and heart-warming."
"We also remember the wonderful medal-winning endeavours of Catherine O Neill, Fran Meehan, Catherine Walsh, Helen Kearney, Orla Barry, James Brown, Damien Shaw, James Dwyer, as well as some great performances which did not achieve medal success," he said.
"I am delighted that the Paralympic team has exceeded its medal targets by a considerable margin, sixteen medals is an astonishing achievement. The combined efforts and success of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes makes all of us feel so proud and we are indebted to them."
In other news, on Saturday the President launched the first in a series of nationwide 'Being Young and Irish' workshops in Dublin City.
As part of the new initiative, the president has called on young people aged 17 to 26 to submit ideas on their vision of Ireland's future. The submissions can be in text, audio or video format.
Three more workshops are due to take place in Monaghan, Cork and Galway over the next three weekends.
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