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Min Coveney announces recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, T.D., today announced the recipients of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2020.

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award was established following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum as a means to recognise the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora, and the first awards were made in 2012.

Announcing the recipients, the Minister said:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity once again to formally recognise the achievements of some of the finest members of our global family, our diaspora. The Presidential Distinguished Service Award celebrates the diversity of our global Irish family. The contribution of the Irish Abroad has been immense, and the diversity of their achievements in their many walks of life, can be seen in this year’s 14 awardees. Each of these individuals have made a remarkable contribution to Ireland and to our international reputation. I am deeply grateful for their service and commitment to this country. This is the ninth year the Presidential Distinguished Service Award has inscribed in history, our nation’s pride and gratitude for an extraordinary group of individuals, who have honoured Ireland”.  

Minister of State for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, T.D., added:

“As Minister of State for the Diaspora, I am proud that Ireland recognises what our diaspora have done and continues to do around the world. 58 nominations were considered for the award, encompassing the worlds of education, culture, sport and charity.


The 14 recipients demonstrate Ireland’s remarkable international influence. Their work has impacted so many, bringing joy through literature, theatre and film; improving social policy and providing care and support for the poor and underprivileged.


In addition, their expertise delivers education at all levels and drives research in the field of science and medicine. They are to be commended for working tirelessly for Irish communities around the world – going above and beyond during the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Recipients of the 2020 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards:


PDSA Recipient 2020



Jack Charlton (deceased)

Arts, Culture and Sport


James W. Flannery

Arts, Culture and Sport


Mitsuko Ohno

Arts, Culture and Sport


Fiona Shaw

Arts, Culture and Sport


Michael J. Dowling

Business and Education


Sr. Louise Horgan

Charitable Works


Alice Kennedy (deceased)

Charitable Works


Dermot O’Leary

Charitable Works


Loretta Cosgrove

Irish Community Support


William Duncan

Peace, Reconciliation & Development

The Netherlands

Sr. Patricia Murray

Peace, Reconciliation & Development


Fr. Kevin O’Hara

Peace, Reconciliation & Development


Michael Ryan

Science, Technology & Innovation


Dennis J. Slamon

Science, Technology & Innovation





Press Office

6 November 2020


Notes for Editors


Note for Editors


The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is neither an honours system nor does it confer any legal entitlements upon the recipients.


In order to be eligible for consideration, nominees must be habitually resident outside the island of Ireland and are required to satisfy the following additional requirements:

(i)    have rendered distinguished service to the nation and/or its reputation abroad;

(ii)  have actively and demonstrably contributed to Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad in at least one of the listed categories;

(iii)          have a track record of sustained support and engagement with Ireland and/or its international reputation and/or Irish communities abroad over a period of not less than 5 years;

(iv) or have given sustained and distinguished service on a global or international issue of importance.  

The scheme is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and a High Level Panel established to make recommendations to Government.  This Panel includes: Mr Niall Burgess, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs (Chair), Mr Martin Fraser, Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach; Mr Art O’Leary, Secretary General to the President; and four representatives from the non-Government sector.   

Nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s network of Diplomatic Missions.


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