Belfast Telegraph

Liam Neeson to receive prestigious award from President Higgins

Taken star Liam Neeson is set to receive a prestigious award from Irish President Michael D Higgins for his outstanding contribution to the Irish diaspora.

The Ballymena-born actor is one of 10 people chosen to receive the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.

The awards were developed as a means to recognise the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora and were first awarded in 2012.

They are split into different categories including Arts, Business and Education, Charitable Works, Irish Community Support, Peace and Reconciliation and Science.

In order to be eligible you must "have rendered distinguished service to the nation and or its reputation abroad", "have actively and demonstrably contributed to Ireland and or its international reputation" and have a track record of over 5 years of sustained support.

Citing the Ballymena-born actor as a 2017 recipient the Republic of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs described Neeson as an "extremely gifted and internationally renowned actor, Liam Neeson has helped to raise Ireland’s profile and awareness of Ireland and Irish artists around the world, especially in the US where he is based".

It continued: "He is a strong supporter of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, where he started his career, and the Irish Arts Centre in New York, where he currently lives. 

"He has given his strong support in recent years for Irish cultural projects, including for the 2016 commemorations and his central involvement in the highly successful Notre Dame University documentary on the 1916 Rising. 

"Liam has also provided the voiceover for Tourism Ireland’s extremely successful #GoGreen4St.PatricksDay video over the last two years and has previously supported a variety of initiatives to promote tourism to Ireland.

"He is also an advocate for highlighting the role that Ireland plays in development aid and human rights worldwide, especially through his longstanding work with UNICEF."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to formally recognise the achievements of these ten members of our diaspora. These remarkable people have provided a sustained service and commitment to Ireland and Irish communities abroad, and it is fitting that they have been selected to be honoured by the President.”

“This is the sixth year in which recipients have received this Award, and the ceremony remains a very important opportunity to acknowledge those who have helped to build and expand our reputation across the globe."

“The diverse contributions of these individuals extends across six different categories, and the impact of their work and dedication is evident across a number of countries.”

2017 recipients

Arts, Culture and Sport

Bernard Canavan (Britain)

Liam Neeson (US)

Business and Education

Patricia Harty (US)

Charitable Works

Denis Mulcahy (US)

Mary T. Murphy (Ethopia)

Irish Community Support

Hideki Mimura (Japan)

Jacqueline O’Donovan (Britain)

Peace, Reconciliation and Development

John de Chastelain (Canada)

Marianne Elliot (Britain)

Science, Technology and Innovation

William Campbell (US)

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