Taoiseach presents award in recognition of international peacekeeping and humanitarian work
Dublin, 12 December 2016: Óglaigh na hÉireann today received the European Movement Ireland European of the Year 2016 award at a gala lunch in Dublin. The award is being given to the Irish Defence Forces in recognition of their contribution to international peacekeeping and humanitarian work.
The European of the Year Award, which is sponsored by Zurich, was initiated by European Movement (EM) Ireland in 1988, to recognise and honour outstanding contributions to promoting and enhancing Ireland’s place in Europe.
Presenting the Award, Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD said “The Defence Forces have a proud history of international service for Ireland and on behalf of the European Union and the United Nations. I am very pleased, as Honorary President of European Movement Ireland, to present Óglaigh na hÉireann with the 2016 European of the Year award. They are a very worthy recipient, especially this year, when, as well as their ongoing humanitarian and peace-keeping endeavours abroad, they have played a very prominent and important role in our 1916 Centenary commemorations.”
“Zurich is delighted to be supporting the European of the Year Award again this year. The presentation of this year’s award to the Irish Defence Forces lends to them just recognition for the service which they have done not only for this State but for humanitarian causes around the world. I offer them our sincere congratulations. ” commented Patrick Manley, CEO Zurich Insurance plc.
In paying tribute to Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Chairman of European Movement Ireland, Maurice Pratt said, “Since 1958, the Defence Forces have had a continuous presence on peace support operations. Currently there are personnel deployed on 15 missions in 14 countries worldwide. As part of Operation PONTUS, since May 2015, over 15,000 lives have been saved as a direct result of the work of the Irish Naval Service in the Mediterranean. In summary, the Irish Defence Forces have stepped up to the mark in the international arena and have made the entire nation of Ireland proud, making them a very commendable deserving winner of the 2016 European Movement Ireland European of the Year award.”
In accepting the award, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, Chief of Staff of Óglaigh Na hÉireann, said “It is an honour for the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann, to receive this award from European Movement – Ireland. This is a special tribute that endorses the considerable efforts and sacrifices our personnel make in order to fulfil the roles we have been assigned, not only in the international arena, but also domestically and particularly during this year of centenary commemoration. It is testament to the outstanding service of our soldiers, sailors and aircrew who seek to inspire pride and lead excellence in the performance of their duties, at home and abroad, on land, sea and air.”