Dublin, 28 April 2017: European Movement (EM) Ireland is proud to congratulate its Executive Director, Noelle O Connell, on being awarded the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by the President of the French Republic. The Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite is the second highest national order of France and was presented to Ms O Connell by the Ambassador of France to Ireland last night at an event hosted in the French Residence in Dublin.
Commenting on the distinguished honour, Mr Maurice Pratt, Chairman of EM Ireland, said: “We are immensely proud that Noelle is being recognised by this well-deserved award. Having had the privilege of working closely with Noelle, I have seen her tireless commitment to promoting and developing the connection between Ireland and our European neighbours.”
The Chairman continued: “As Executive Director of EM Ireland and a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance Française, Noelle has made an outstanding contribution to Irish-European relations, and particularly to Irish-French relations. It is a pleasure to offer her my sincere congratulations.”
At the event in the French Residence last night, the Ambassador of France to Ireland, H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, remarked, “It is a great pleasure for me to bestow the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite to Noelle, a true European, a committed friend of France and a woman of conviction”.
Ambassador Thébault continued: “By the dynamism and involvement she has shown both as Executive Director of European Movement Ireland and as a member of the Board of the Alliance Française, Noelle has demonstrated her unique qualities and sense of service to public affairs, Europe and the deepening of the relationship between Ireland and France. Her career is also a testament to the important role women play in public life for the benefit of the community.”
On receipt of the honour, Ms O Connell said “C’est un très grand honneur, et en effet, je me sens très humble et très reconnaissante d’avoir reçu le Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite de la France, un pays qui a eu une telle influence non seulement sur ma vie professionnelle mais aussi personnelle.”
Ms O Connell continued: “We are living in imperfect, challenging and interesting times. As the well-known Irish expression goes, ní neart go cur le chéile; and with the French national motto of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ in mind, now more than ever is strength, reason and unity required. We must be brave and campaign for what we have faith in, fight for the values we cherish and hold dear, and make a positive and vocal stand for what we believe in.”