Buncrana Town Council and Donegal County Council are delighted to announce that the first annual Tip O’Neill Donegal Diaspora Award will be given to Mr Niall O’Dowd, one of the most prominent members of the present day Irish Diaspora .

This year 80 members of the O’Neill family will be traveling to Donegal for the award ceremony and weekend of celebrations.

The Tip O Neill Donegal Diaspora Award was established in June 2011 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. The Council decided that the best way to celebrate the life and achievements of one of Inishowen’s most famous descendants was to present an award in his honor.

The ceremony will be held in Buncrana, the town from which his grandmother had emigrated as a young woman in the 19th century.

For 10 years Tip O’Neill was, as Speaker of the American House of Representatives, the 3rd most powerful politician in America, after the President and Vice President. O’Neill achieved, over a long political life, a great many improvements in the lives of not alone his fellow Irish Americans but also of the least privileged in America generally.

His maternal grandmother Eunice (Unity) Fullerton was born outside Buncrana, Co Donegal. He was, therefore an illustrious and eminent member of the Irish Diaspora.

In 1991 President Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian award, which is presented for especial meritorious contributions to the national interests of America and World peace. It was well merited by Tip O’Neill.

In 1977 he denounced violence in Northern Ireland and used his influential position as Speaker to play a key and indeed a pivotal role in bringing about peace in Ireland. During the final stages of the discussions he told British officials he could deliver financial support to underpin the Agreement.

n the day the Agreement was signed, President Reagan and Tip in a joint announcement gave an assurance of financial support. This resulted in the establishment of the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) which since 1985 has paid out millions of pounds/euro to projects in Northern Ireland and the 6 border counties in the Republic.

This year’s Tip O Neill Donegal Diaspora Award will be bestowed upon Niall O’Dowd, the founder of IrishCentral, the Irish Voice and Irish America. He is being honored in recognition and acknowledgment, in Ireland, of the success and achievement that he has attained in his or her chosen field.

O’Dowd was born in Ireland and emigrated in his mid-20s to the United States, in June 1978. As a successful journalist and editor, he worked tirelessly for the Irish émigré in the United States and played a pivotal role in the Irish Peace Process. He was the leader of an Irish American peace delegation to Northern Ireland in the early 1990s, in fact former president Clinton has stated that his involvement in the Northern Ireland issue came about through his relationship with O’Dowd.
The award ceremony will take place on 7th September.

For more information visit donegaldiasporaaward.ie.