President backs sheds help movement
A men's help network developed around the humble shed has been given the presidential seal of approval.
President Michael D Higgins has been named patron of the Irish Men's Sheds Association, a locally-based scheme to allow men to work on projects in a bid to prevent social isolation.
John Evoy, chief executive of the association, said it was a vindication of the work the organisation does.
"We are delighted that the President sees the value in the work that we do and we look forward to his patronage over the coming years," he said.
"We feel a great validation of our work and are very happy to have this opportunity to develop an association with the President.
"It is an enormous honour for the Irish Men's Sheds Association and the men we represent that the President of Ireland has agreed to be our patron.
"This recognition from the highest office in the country is a great moral boost to the thousands of men who attend their local sheds regularly."
There are now more than 120 men's sheds in Ireland. They are designed to offer a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where men from all walks of life can work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time, and in the company of other men.
They have been acclaimed for providing a critical function for many unemployed men thanks to the substantial support network they provide.
The Irish association was founded by Mr Evoy on the back of an Australian model and using the motto "Men don't talk face to face. They talk shoulder to shoulder".