Actor Gabriel Byrne, Father Brendan McBride, Maureen Murphy and Tom Moran are are among the recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad for 2015.
The Presidential Distinguished Service Awards recognize those who have served Ireland with distinction and those who have actively contributed to Ireland in a sustained manner. The Awards were established by the Government following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum. Nominations are made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s global network of embassies and consulates general.
Tom Moran, born on Staten Island to Irish American parents, is honored for his work in Peace, Reconciliation and Development. A hugely successful businessman and well-respected humanitarian, Moran is the chairman of Concern Worldwide (U.S.) and noted philanthropist when it comes to Irish causes in the arts, culture, business and heritage worlds. He has been an influential voice in the Irish peace process and has championed reconciliation between the communities.
Gabriel Byrne’s award recognizes his work as a Cultural Ambassador for Ireland while solicitor Gareth Peirce was nominated for her contribution to peace and reconciliation which included her advocacy work on the cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. Fr. Brendan McBride, founder and head of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco, are also among those honored.
Announcing the recipients of the award, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan said, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to these remarkable individuals for what each of them has contributed to Ireland, to the Irish abroad and to our country’s international reputation. Their service and commitment to Ireland is a shining example to us all and they are worthy recipients of this honor by the President.
“Among the ten recipients this year, some were born in Ireland, some are of Irish heritage and others are connected to Ireland through the sustained commitments they have made to our country.
“During the very difficult years of conflict on this island, many people from beyond our shores made an important contribution to advancing peace, justice and reconciliation. This year’s awards honor two such people: Tom Moran and Gareth Peirce.
“Irish America has always played a crucial role in promoting and supporting the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. This year we are recognizing Tom Moran, a hugely successful businessman and noted philanthropist who has been an influential voice in the Peace Process. Over the years, Tom has developed relationships with social, political and business leaders in Northern Ireland and continues to open doors to promote a positive future for this island. He has been a champion of reconciliation between the communities and I am delighted that his great work is being recognized.
“Gareth Peirce is a British solicitor who, in the darkest years of the troubles and in very challenging circumstances, has campaigned for justice in a number of high-profile cases involving Irish citizens, including the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six.
“This year’s ten Award recipients demonstrate the rich diversity of contributions to Ireland and the Irish community in the fields of arts, culture, sport, business, education, charitable works, community support and peace, reconciliation and development."
The recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards in 2015 are:
Arts, Culture and Sport
Byrne is a renowned actor. He has done sterling service as Cultural Ambassador for Ireland and continues to give generously of his time, particularly in supporting the Irish Arts Centre in NYC.
Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru):
Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian writer, politician, journalist, essayist, college professor, and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. By writing ‘The Dream of the Celt’, Mario Vargas Llosa has opened up the story of Roger Casement in a very sympathetic manner to the 650 million Spanish and Portuguese speakers in the world. This distinguished Nobel laureate has done Ireland and the Irish people a great service by presenting the story of one our national heroes in a context of the fight against oppression that resonates strongly with the peoples of Latin America.
Business and Education
Fr. Donal Doyle (Japan):
Fr Doyle has lived and worked in Japan for over 50 years. He established an Irish Studies Programme at the prestigious Sophia University which encouraged students over many decades to visit Ireland thus making friends of Ireland of many hundreds of Japanese people who have now reached the upper levels of Japanese society, in business, administration and the arts.
Niall Fitzgerald (UK):
Niall Fitzgerald has had a distinguished career in business and is among the most prominent Irish business leaders across the world. He is active in promoting Irish sporting and educational causes including Munster Rugby and UCD, where he holds official positions. He was awarded the KBE in 2002 while Chairman of the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever.
Charles Handy (UK):
Renowned management guru Charles Handy, who was born in Kildare in 1932, has lived in England for many years. He had a long career in management science, mainly based at the London Business School, and is most famous for his management writings, including ‘The Empty Raincoat’ published in 1994. He and his wife regularly visit Ireland where they are also active in supporting philanthropic projects including in Ballymun and with development charities in East Africa and the West Bank.
Sr. Dr. Miriam Duggan (Kenya):
Sr Miriam Duggan is a member of the Franciscan Sisters and has spent much of her life working in Africa – initially as an obstetrician and laterally in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. She is held in very high regard by her Congregation, the missionary community and the Governments in the countries where she has worked.
Irish Community Support
Fr. Brendan McBride (US):
Fr. McBride is President of the Irish Apostolate in the United States. Originally from Donegal, he is also founder and head of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in San Francisco and has committed his life’s work to serving the Irish community through advocacy and provision of support services and is one of the key leaders in the Irish community’s efforts to bring about immigration reform. Fr. McBride played a central role in providing support to those involved in the recent Berkeley tragedy.
Maureen Murphy (US):
Dr. Murphy is Fulbright Fellow at University College, Dublin, and was awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters by the National University of Ireland for her contributions to Irish Studies. She is the Chair of New York’s 2016 Commemorations Committee, the American Irish Historical Society (of which she is a Board member) and with other prominent historical, heritage and community groups on a comprehensive and coordinated program of commemorative events into 2016 and beyond. Dr. Maureen Murphy has a stellar record of service to the community as an educator, a supporter of young academics and as an advocate for Irish Studies in the United States.
Peace, Reconciliation and Development
Gareth Peirce (UK):
Gareth Peirce is a British solicitor and human rights activist. In a career of more than 30 years, she has represented a number of high-profile cases, including the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. Ms Peirce’s contribution to peace and reconciliation is evident in terms of the impact her work has had both in the UK and internationally. Her dedication and commitment to obtaining justice for several Irish people living in Britain who were wrongfully convicted is acknowledged worldwide and has been instrumental in bringing about major changes to the legal system.
Tom Moran (US):
Born on Staten Island to Irish American parents, Moran is a hugely successful businessman and well-respected humanitarian. Mr. Moran is the chairman of Concern Worldwide (U.S.) and noted philanthropist when it comes to Irish causes in the arts, culture, business and heritage worlds. Mr. Moran has been an influential voice in the Irish peace process, he developed relationships with social, political and business leaders in Northern Ireland and continues to open doors to promote a new Northern Ireland. He has championed reconciliation between the communities.
Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Diaspora Affairs, added “These ten people show the remarkable diversity of Ireland’s reach in the world. For the first time, there are awardees from Japan, Peru and Kenya, in addition to the more familiar locations of Britain and the US.
“Throughout the world, Ireland is an island associated with theater and literature. That recognition is thanks to the work of people like Mario Vargas Llosa and Dr Maureen Murphy. Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize winning author, is Peruvian; but through his work he has opened a window on Ireland throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world. Dr. Maureen Murphy has made a huge contribution to Irish Studies as an academic and as an advocate, particularly in New York where she is the Chair of New York’s 2016 Commemorations Committee and a Board Member of the American Irish Historical Society.
“Irish born Gabriel Byrne has become one of the best known Irish actors of his generation and has served as Ireland’s Cultural Ambassador.
“While some of this year’s Award recipients are household names, others are receiving recognition for the quiet and tireless work they undertake daily. I saw for myself the untiring support which Fr. Brendan McBride provided to the Irish community in San Francisco in the aftermath of the Berkeley tragedy.
“Taken together, this group show diverse talents: cultural awareness, business acumen, humanity, far-sightedness and, in different ways, a concern to make the world a better place. I want to congratulate them all and look forward to meeting them when they come to Ireland.”