IUSA Distinguished and Emerging Leader Awards Announced

Both Michael Barron from BeLonGTo and Maeve O’Rourke from the Justice for Magdelene Campaigns have been awarded the highest honours at the Irish US Alumni Conference on the 24th January 2015.

IUSA Michael BarronDistinguished Leader Award: Michael Barron

In 2003, Mr. Michael Barron founded BeLonG To – an organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people – which has been signaled out for commendation from the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In founding and directing the organisation, he has established its vision, set up its systems and built its national and international network. He has ensured strong youth participation from the beginning, and through his development of robust youth leadership training and supports BeLonG To is widely acknowledged, and independently evaluated, as having excellent involvement of young people in the organisation’s management structure and decision making. Young people from BeLonG To have been asked to serve on numerous advisory bodies, including the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Council.

In recognition of his professional excellence, his long-term commitment to the U.S. – Irish relationship and his outstanding advocacy on behalf of marginalised youth and the LGBT community in Ireland, we were honoured to present Mr. Michael Barron with the Ireland United States Alumni Association/U.S. Embassy Dublin Distinguished Alumni Award 2015.

IUSA Maeve O'RourkeEmerging Leader Award: Maeve O’Rourke

Maeve O’Rourke took what was strong and clear and richly elaborated in American cultural and intellectual life: a dynamic discourse of human rights and translated that into an Irish idiom. Maeve’s arguments were found persuasive by Ireland’s Human Rights Commission and also by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).The significant pressure of these two bodies was crucial in achieving an apology from the Irish State and a redress scheme for the Magdalene women. The trail that Maeve has blazed is now being followed by other campaign groups in Ireland who are using international human rights fora provided by the United Nations to argue for attention and redress for human rights violations in this country. Maeve remains a committed member of Justice for Magdalenes Research which seeks to provide academic analysis and educational resources on the issues associated with the Magadalene Institutions.

In recognition of her demonstrated leadership in her professional and academic career, her commitment to promoting the U.S. – Irish relationship and her advocacy on behalf of the victims of the Madgalene Laundries, we were honoured to present Ms. Maeve O’Rourke with the Ireland United States Alumni Association/U.S. Embassy Dublin Emerging Leader Award 2015.