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On September 12, Senate President Therese Murray was presented with the 2014 Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award by Irish President Michael D Higgins at an awards ceremony in County Donegal.
President Murray is the third recipient of the Tip O’Neill Diaspora Award which was initiated in 2012 to mark the centenary of the birth of Massachusetts politician Thomas P. Tip O’Neill whose maternal grandmother came from Inishowen. Previous recipients include renowned journalist, social commentator and Editor of the Irish Voice and Irish Central, Niall O’Dowd (2012), and Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana (2013).
"For me, success as a public official isn’t measured by the percentage of votes I have received…It isn’t measured by the title I have achieved…It is measured by the people who I through my position have helped to lead happy, healthy, full lives. To me, making that difference makes all the difference in the world, " remarked the Senate President upon receiving the prestigious accolade.
Described as 'worthy award winner ', Murray is being recognized for her work for the people of Massachusetts, Irish Americans and the Northwest of Ireland but also she is widely recognized for building a very successful career in the predominantly male world of politics in the United States.
Talking to the Senate President before her trip to Ireland, Murray laughed and said "I surprised myself" when asked how she ended up as one of the leading political figures in the state.
Having worked on various other people's campaigns, she recalled how she ended up running for public office, saying "I was encouraged to put my name forward for the first time, and I won! And I just kept doing it."
She was first elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1992 as Senator for Plymouth and Barnstable district and since then has been a driving force in economic and social policy that has helped change the direction of both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the U.S. Most notably, Murray authored legislation for the historic health care reforms that have taken place on a national level over the last twelve months.
Besides been a skilled strategist and negotiator, Murray attributes most of her success in the political field down to simple "hard work."
Citing her proudest moment in politics so far, Murray proudly stated "being elected Senate President."
She took over the office in 2007 and in doing so became the first woman to hold such a position in Massachusetts.
Speaking about working in the male dominated landscape of politics, she admits that she has met resistance but "prevailed" and actively encourages women to get involved, saying "I talk to women all day, encouraging them to run."
"Having the courage to put your name forward, and then the ability to not take all the attacks personally," the Dorchester native says is the key for any woman entering the political arena.
As well as breaking glass ceilings in politics, the Senate President has been good friend to Ireland. Murray has had a long standing interest in economic development in Ireland and has led numerous trade missions to the country over the last eight years.
Most of Murray’s focus has been creating collaborations and developing relationships with partners in the Life Sciences industry in the Northwest.
“The connections we are making , the scientific research and medical devices, and the connections between our doctors, researchers, will eventually pay off for cures, treatments, and preventions, so that is the heart of everything that we do,” said Murray.
As part of her interest in nurturing these collaborations, the Senate President announced during her trip to Donegal, the expansion of the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) to Ireland. Dubbed “M2D2 Northwest,” the successful medical device incubator will now hold incubator spaces in counties Donegal and Derry.
Speaking at the launch of the international incubator space last week in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, President Murray said “Massachusetts holds international recognition as a premiere research and development center for life sciences, biotechnology and medical devices. This exciting collaboration will offer assistance to Massachusetts-based companies looking to break into the European market while also attracting European companies that want to launch clinical trials in Massachusetts."
She added "Our shared goal is to create an environment where research, innovation and commercialization can all take place and this is a big step forward for innovators and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts and beyond.”
Whilst on her trip to Ireland, the Senate President is expected to attend numerous meetings and events in Donegal, Derry, Belfast and Dublin to promote collaboration and encourage investment in the Commonwealth. She will be returning to the states on September 19.