Belfast Telegraph

Priests, Paralympic gold medallist and Snow Patrol frontman honoured by Queen

In total 97 people from Northern Ireland have been awarded honours
In total 97 people from Northern Ireland have been awarded honours
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

Famous singing trio The Priests and a Paralympic gold medallist are among those set to receive honours from the Queen.

The Very Reverend Eugene O'Hagan, his brother Fr Martin O'Hagan and their friend Fr David Delargy, who have obtained worldwide acclaim for their vocals, will be awarded MBEs.

Fr Eugene O’Hagan, Fr Martin O’Hagan and Fr David Delargy
Fr Eugene O’Hagan, Fr Martin O’Hagan and Fr David Delargy

Joining them on the New Year Honours List is one of the region's most decorated athletes Michael McKillop, who is in line for an MBE.

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has been made an OBE for services to music and charity.

In total 97 people from Northern Ireland have been awarded honours. This year's local recipients are recognised for an array of services, ranging from music and charity to sport, business and healthcare.

Receiving a CBE for his contribution to Economic Development in Northern Ireland is former Invest NI boss Alastair Hamilton, who recently stepped down from one of the most important roles in the public sector after 10 years in post.

"It's a real honour and I'm delighted to receive the award," Mr Hamilton told the Belfast Telegraph, paying special tribute to the staff with whom he worked over the last decade.

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Other MBEs go to retired footballer and former Northern Ireland captain Aaron Hughes and bereaved mum and charity founder Ciara Nicholl who lost her daughter Ellie to a rare progressive neurological condition, while peacemaker priest Fr Kevin Mullan and ex-Down Royal racecourse CEO Mike Todd get BEMs.

Also in receipt of an OBE for services to housing is chair of Connswater Homes Limited Professor Paddy Gray, while England's One-Day International cricket captain Eoin Morgan, who was born in Ireland, gets a CBE.

Fathers Eugene and Martin O'Hagan and Fr David Delargy, the Down and Connor singing priests who each received an MBE for services to music and charity, received praise from Bishop Noel Treanor, who said they "have become known across the world for their harmonious singing".

Alastair Hamilton
Alastair Hamilton

"These awards, both individually and collectively, pay tribute to the well-deserved contribution of these priests to their respective fields of ministry, pastoral care and the wider community and also to the outreach and role of the Church within society," he said. "These three priests have been given a platform to reach out to and inspire diverse audiences and communities across the globe, from all faiths and traditions, united in their common love of music.

"The honour that they have received pays particular tribute to their generous charity work effected and realised through the 'Priests Charitable Trust' as they continue to reach out in support to those in need."

Bishop Treanor also commended fellow MBE recipient Fr Stephen McBrearty, chaplain within the Prison Service of Northern Ireland, who accepted "this honour on behalf of all within the prison chaplaincy, serving across the three estates in the prison services; HMP Hydebank Wood, HMP Maghaberry and HMP Magilligan."

Fr McBrearty added: "This award recognises and pays tribute to the extraordinary contribution of all chaplains from all Christian denominations and other faiths - the men and women who untiringly give their service to the prison parish family."

Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Ronnie Armour paid tribute to Fr McBrearty's work in Hydebank over the last 22 years which he said "has been invaluable to our staff, our partners but most of all to the young men and women in custody".

Nine-time world champion Michael McKillop was awarded an MBE for services to disability awareness and athletics in Northern Ireland.

At 29, the four-time Paralympic champion and Ballymena native who boasts four golds across three Olympic games, is still eyeing up the Tokyo Paralympics next summer.

Belfast-born development and humanitarian aid specialist Lindy Cameron is to receive a CB - Companion of the Order of the Bath - after a 21-year career with the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID).

The 47-year-old, who left DFID earlier this year to start a new role as the second most senior official at the Northern Ireland Office, described the accolade as "fantastic news".

Aaron Hughes
Aaron Hughes

"I had no idea I'd been nominated, and I'm delighted," said Lindy, who received an OBE from Prince Charles in 2004 for her work in Iraq. "But this is also a huge testament to the work and achievements of the whole DFID team I led overseas.

"The best bit of the job was getting out to see what people on the front line did and actually seeing the difference they made to real people's lives."

Fr Mullan, whose Christmas morning handshake with Presbyterian minister Reverend David Armstrong in 1984 became an iconic moment, receives a BEM.

Drumquin's parish priest, who suffered two serious health scares within 12 months and underwent a triple heart by-pass, was honoured for services to Inter-Church Collaboration and Community Relations.

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