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Padraig Harrington and Christy Moore Honoured at People of the Year Awards

- School boy who saved Father’s Life named Young Irish Person of the Year

- Politicians honoured for role in re-establishment of Northern Ireland Assembly

Sporting hero, Padraig Harrington tonight (Saturday 8th September 2007) received the Irish Person of the Year, whilst musical legend, Christy Moore was named Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician at the televised 33rd annual People of the Year Awards which is sponsored for the first time by QUINN-healthcare and organised by Rehab.

An Tánaiste, Brian Cowen TD was guest of honour at the Awards presentation in the Citywest Hotel, Saggart, Co. Dublin. The Awards were hosted for the first time by Gráinne Seoige and broadcast live on RTÉ 1.

Gerald Killen, a ten year-old school boy from Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath, who despite his tender age showed tremendous bravery when he saved the life of his father, Denis, after an horrific farmyard accident, received the Young Irish Person of the Year Award at the event.

The re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Assembly last May was a momentous occasion that marked the end of four decades of conflict. As a recognition of the creation of a peaceful and democratic solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland and for their commitment to bringing all parties in the North together in the Northern Assembly, An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair MP, First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Reverend Ian Paisley MLA, MP and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MLA, MP were nominated for a People of the Year Award. An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, sent a recorded message accepting the award on behalf of Former Prime Minister Tony Blair while his own award was accepted on stage by An Tánaiste, Brian Cowen TD. Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness accepted his award in person at the glittering event.

Cork mother Maureen Forrest became the International Person of the Year for her selfless dedication and life-saving work among the abandoned, vulnerable and helpless people of Calcutta.

Jane McKenna was honoured for her work in founding the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice Foundation following the tragic deaths of her two daughters to serious illnesses. The founder and former director of the National Children’s Choir, Sean Creamer, received his People of the Year Award for fostering a love of music and choral singing among tens of thousands of primary school children through his work with the National Children’s Choir. Mary Nally accepted a People of the Year Award on behalf of the Fáilte Isteach project in Summerhill, Co. Meath that involves older people in the local community teaching English to foreign nationals.

As the first European winner of a Major Championship since 1999 and the first Irishman to win the British Open for 60 years, Padraig Harrington has entered sporting history while enthralling the nation. He received the Irish Person of the Year Award for what the adjudicators called his ‘sheer will to win in an enthralling British Open Championship finale and for a career played in the spirit of the best sporting values’.

Patrick Hughes, Marketing Director of Sony BMG Ireland accepted Christy Moore’s award as Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician from An Tánaiste, Brian Cowen TD. The award was made for what Christy’s citation called “decades of exceptional contribution to Irish music” following a public vote that attracted close to 20,000 nominations. During a career that has spanned over four decades, Christy Moore’s ability to capture in song the essence of the moment has kept him at the top of a profession where change is permanent.

Ten year-old, Gerald Killeen was named Young Irish Person of the Year for his bravery, calmness and presence of mind when his father Denis was seriously injured and lost an arm in a horrific accident on the family farm last May. Although frightened, upset and deeply worried for his father, Gerald Killeen faced testing and traumatic circumstances with great bravery. His calmness and courage, when so many others would have panicked, undoubtedly saved his father’s life and were all the more remarkable given his young age.

Having witnessed the poverty, hopelessness and exploitation of street children in Calcutta, this year’s International Person of the Year, Maureen Forrest established the HOPE Foundation in 1999. Since then, the HOPE Foundation has reached out to tens of thousands of exploited children in the city each year. It has set up five homes, a HIV/AIDS hospice and a drug rehabilitation centre in Calcutta and this year, the HOPE Foundation is setting up a primary healthcare project and hospital in the city.

Having lost both her daughters tragically to serious illness, Jane McKenna, established the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice Foundation in 2001 to establish a ‘home away from home’ for families to spend the final days with their terminally ill children. She has worked tirelessly towards fulfilling her dream of building Ireland’s first children’s hospice that will provide a peaceful, private environment in which children are able to die with dignity.

Sean Creamer has spent the past 22 years dedicated to providing young people with the opportunity to experience the joy of singing through the National Children’s Choir, which he established in 1985. He was musical director of the choir until his retirement late last year. The aim of the choir is to create a love and appreciation of choral singing and to enhance the musical education of all involved. It is estimated that in that time a staggering 70,000 children benefited from his work.

Based in Summerhill, Co. Meath, Fáilte Isteach is an innovative project that offers conversational English classes to foreign nationals resident in the local community. Every week, people from Argentina, China, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova and Poland gather together with older members of the Summerhill community to talk, listen and learn. It is an initiative that allows newcomers to gain a greater cultural understanding of their new home, but also benefits the local elderly community too.

The award winners were chosen by an adjudicating committee comprising editors from national newspapers, provincial press and broadcast media from nominations made by members of the public. The award to Ireland’s Greatest Living Musician was decided by an expert panel who chose the winner from a shortlist of the 15 most popular nominees voted for by the Irish public.


For further information on the winners and the awards, please visit www.peopleoftheyear.com or contact:

Colm Ó Riagáin, Slattery Communications Tel: +353 86 804 9383; Email: colm.oriagain@scomms.ie

Dara Duffy, Rehab Group Tel: +353 87 799 5194; Email: dara.duffy@rehab.ie

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