14 Irish people living abroad have been named the honorees for the prestigious Presidential Distinguished Service Awards

Michael J. Dowling, the Co Limerick-born CEO of Northwell Health, is among the 14 recipients of this year’s Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Awards, the highest honor for Irish people living overseas.

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award was established following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum as a means to recognise the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora, and the first awards were made in 2012.

Minister @simoncoveney was today delighted to announce the 14 recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2020.

The awards are an opportunity to recognise the contribution of the 🇮🇪 diaspora around the world.

More👉https://t.co/jNf8yMhHwu pic.twitter.com/DSxOz6Tg1J

— Irish Foreign Ministry (@dfatirl) November 6, 2020

The honorees were announced on Friday, November 6 by Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. It is expected that President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins will present the awards during a virtual ceremony in December.

In a statement on Friday, Coveney said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity once again to formally recognise the achievements of some of the finest members of our global family, our diaspora. 

“The Presidential Distinguished Service Award celebrates the diversity of our global Irish family. The contribution of the Irish Abroad has been immense, and the diversity of their achievements in their many walks of life, can be seen in this year’s 14 awardees. Each of these individuals have made a remarkable contribution to Ireland and to our international reputation. 

“I am deeply grateful for their service and commitment to this country. This is the ninth year the Presidential Distinguished Service Award has inscribed in history, our nation’s pride and gratitude for an extraordinary group of individuals, who have honoured Ireland.”

Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, T.D., added: “As Minister of State for the Diaspora, I am proud that Ireland recognises what our diaspora have done and continues to do around the world. 58 nominations were considered for the award, encompassing the worlds of education, culture, sport, and charity.

“The 14 recipients demonstrate Ireland’s remarkable international influence. Their work has impacted so many, bringing joy through literature, theatre and film; improving social policy and providing care and support for the poor and underprivileged.

“In addition, their expertise delivers education at all levels and drives research in the field of science and medicine. They are to be commended for working tirelessly for Irish communities around the world – going above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The recipients of the 2020 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards, as well as the category they were nominated in and where they now live, are as follows:

  • Jack Charlton (deceased) - Arts, Culture, and Sport - Britain
  • James Flannery - Arts, Culture, and Sport - USA
  • Mitsuko Ohno - Arts, Culture, and Sport - Japan
  • Fiona Shaw - Arts, Culture, and Sport - Britain
  • Michael J. Dowling - Business and Education - USA
  • Sr. Louise Horgan - Charitable Works - Thailand
  • Alice Kennedy (deceased) - Charitable Works - Britain
  • Dermot O’Leary - Charitable Works - Britain
  • Loretta Cosgrove - Irish Community Support - Australia
  • William Duncan - Peace, Reconciliation, and Development - The Netherlands
  • Sr. Patricia Murray - Peace, Reconciliation, and Development - Italy
  • Fr. Kevin O’Hara - Peace, Reconciliation, and Development - Nigeria
  • Michael Ryan - Science, Technology & Innovation - Switzerland
  • Dennis J. Slamon - Science, Technology & Innovation - USA