DUBLIN, Ireland - At the People of the Year awards this year, an event which provides an opportunity for the public to honour extraordinary people, the Irish Coast Guard, a Tuam historian, Catherine Corless and and homeless advocate Fr Peter McVerry were among the winners.
According to organizers, the ceremony is an opportunity for the public to honour extraordinary people who have shown courage, bravery, commitment and determination in everyday life.
The community of Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscomomon was honored for welcoming Syrian refugees into their community, and Erris in Co Mayo was honoured for its help and support in the search for Rescue 116 crew members.
Catherine Corless, who was honoured at the ceremony for her persistence and dedication, called for a full exhumation of the remains of hundreds of babies on the site of the former Tuam mother and baby home.
Corless was recognised for her advocacy on behalf of survivors and their families.
The Irish Coast Guard, the crew of Rescue 116, and Caitríona Lucas were all honoured in recognition of the heroic work of the men and women of the Coast Guard who risk their lives to assist maritime and coastal communities.
Commenting on the honor, Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue Operations Manager Gerard O'Flynn, said, "Going above and beyond is the norm for members of the Coast Guard service. The fact that these men and women often put their own lives in danger to carry out their duties makes the search and rescue crews such a remarkable group of people."
Further, Fr Peter McVerry, who has been at the coalface of homelessness in Ireland since the 1970s, received an award in recognition for a lifetime of dedication to the homeless.
Fr McVerry said he believed being honoured with a second People of the Year Award in 13 years showed the lack of progress being made on the issue of homelessness in Ireland.
Meanwhile, Campaigner Vera Twomey was also honoured at the ceremony for her efforts toward her daughter Ava being issued with a special license to allow her access to medicinal cannabis in Ireland.
Speaking at the event, Twomey said she believed the Government now needs to legislate and put a framework in place for the prescribing of medicinal cannabis to ensure that other families do not have to go through the same ordeal as her.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sabina Higgins were present at the event.
The Person of the Year Award was bagged by Harry and Molly Flynn, for saving their little sister's life on several occasions.
Their six-year-old sister Isabelle was born with cerebral palsy and apnoea and can stop breathing at any stage.
The Sports Person of the Year Award was bagged by the Galway Senior Hurling Team and rugby referee Joy Neville.
The event this year was held in the Mansion House, Dublin.
Commenting on the year’s ceremony, Mo Flynn the Chief Executive of Rehab Group, which organises the Awards, said, “Every day our teams in communities across the country meet people who are also doing great work, but they do not seek the limelight or get the recognition they deserve.”