THE AWARDS One for the record books

Historian Catherine Corless, the Irish Coast Guard, crew of Rescue 116, rugby referee Joy Neville and campaigner Vera Twomey were among those honoured at the 43rd  Rehab People of the Year Awards.

The ceremony was presented by Gráinne Seoige and Aidan Power, and broadcast live on RTÉ One. The Galway Senior Hurlers, human rights campaigner Ifrah Ahmed, homeless advocate Fr Peter McVerry, and the community of Ballaghaderreen were also honoured.

Colette Byrne, from Laois, was recognised for establishing an online support community for widows following the tragic death of her husband in a road traffic accident, while the community of Erris in Mayo was honoured for its help and support in the search for Rescue 116 crew members.

The deserving winners were celebrated at a black-tie event in the Mansion House, Dublin. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, jockey AP McCoy, activist Sabina Higgins, and rock band Aslan also walked the red carpet to honour Ireland’s heroes.

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, jockey AP McCoy, activist Sabina Higgins, and rock band Aslan also walked the red carpet to honour Ireland’s heroes. The country’s favourite architect Dermot Bannon, news anchors Caitriona Perry and Keelin Shanley, publisher Norah Casey, best-selling author Cathy Kelly, rugby pundit Brent Pope, and Mrs Brown Boys’ star Eilish O’Carroll also joined the winners.

The prestigious ceremony is a special opportunity for the Irish public to honour and celebrate those extraordinary people who have shown courage, bravery, commitment and determination.

  • Catherine Corless

    PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

    Catherine was recognised for her passionate advocacy on behalf of Tuam Mother and Baby home survivors, and their families, and for her persistence and dedication, without which the scandal would never have been exposed and the truth revealed.

  • Peter McVerry

    PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

    Peter  has been at the coalface of homelessness in Ireland since the 1970s. His award, in recognition for a lifetime of dedication to the homeless and for his unrelenting efforts to shine a light on the plight of some of our most vulnerable, was presented by Aslan’s Christy Dignam.

  • Joy Neville

    SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR

    Joy says that all young sportswomen should be able to dream and achieve, as jockey AP McCoy presented her with a Sports Person of the Year Award for her inspirational achievements in breaking down barriers, and for her service, commitment, and leadership to the world of rugby. Joy, who has represented Ireland and Munster during a stellar playing career, was recently named World Rugby Referee of the Year for 2017. She has won 70 caps in the back row for Ireland and went on to captain her country for a number of years. At Munster, Joy helped the province to win six inter-provincial championships and later led the Ireland team to a Grand Slam victory in 2013. She then went on to be one of rugby’s most accomplished referees, becoming the first female referee to officiate in a European match in 2016, followed by the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final in Dublin last August, and then taking to the field to become the first ever woman to referee a men’s international match in October.

  • Ifrah Ahmed

    INTERNATIONAL PERSON OF THE YEAR

    Ifrah Ahmed was presented with the International Person of the Year Award by Sabina Higgins. A dual Irish-Somalian citizen, the human rights campaigner scooped the gong for leading an ongoing international campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM). In 2006, Ifrah was forced to flee the war in Somalia to Dublin where she would begin a new life in exile. She quickly found her calling in social activism and, in 2008, founded the United Youth of Ireland, an organisation that helps young people from migrant communities in their artistic, creative and business endeavours. Ifrah accepted an invitation in 2014 of the then President of Somalia to return to her home country to scope the potential for a national FGM eradication plan and female gender empowerment programmes. During that time, Ifrah undertook a wide range of activities, including raising awareness around violence against women and girls, and establishing empowerment programmes.

  • Irish Coast Guard & Community of Erris

    PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

    Irish Coast Guard, crew of Rescue 116, Caitríona Lucas and the community of Erris were also honoured. Broadcaster Bryan Dobson presented the award in recognition of the heroic work of the men and women of the Irish Coast Guard who risk their lives to assist maritime and coastal communities, while the people of Erris were recognised for their contribution to the search for the missing crew.

  • Harry and Molly Flynn

    YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

    Harry (13) and Molly Flynn (10) were presented with the Young Person of the Year Award by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, for saving their sister’s life on many occasions. Their sister Isabelle (6), was born with cerebral palsy and apnoea which means she can suddenly stop breathing at any stage during the day or night.

  • People of Ballaghaderreen

    COMMUNITY GROUP OF THE YEAR

    The community of Ballaghaderreen was honoured for its inspirational altruism and community spirit, with author Cathy Kelly presenting the Community of the Year Award. The Roscommon community was recognised for doing Ireland proud by extending a true Céad Míle Fáilte to a group of Syrian refugees. The town’s arrivals were mostly young families fleeing war-torn Aleppo and young men from Damascus who had left behind their immediate families in Syria

  • Galway Senior Hurlers

    SPORTS PERSON OF THE YEAR

    The Galway Senior Hurling Team was awarded the Sports Person of the Year Award by sports broadcaster Michael Lyster and Tony Keady’s daughter, Shannon Keady, for lifting the Liam McCarthy Cup for the first time in more than 29 years.

  • Colette Byrne

    EVERYDAY HERO OF THE YEAR

    Colette Byrne was presented with the Everyday Hero Award by RTÉ Radio One broadcasters  Sean O’Rourke and Evelyn O’Rourke for selflessly founding an online community – widow.ie – following the tragic death of her husband, Peter. The website has supported hundreds of people in similar circumstances through their most difficult and darkest time. Peter’s life was tragically cut short when he was killed in a traffic accident in August 2008, leaving behind a three-year-old daughter, Kate (now 12).

  • Vera Twomey

    PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

    Vera Twomey was presented with the award by Olympic medallist Rob Heffernan. Vera and her daughter Ava Barry (8) rose to national prominence during a two-and-a-half-year national campaign to secure medicinal cannabis to treat Ava’s condition called Dravet Syndrome, which causes severe, dangerous and frequent seizures.

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