Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC awarded the President of Ireland's Distinguished Service Award

This week Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC received the President of Ireland's Distinguished Service Award from President Higgins at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin. The ceremony was followed by a dinner hosted by the Tánaiste at Dublin Castle, with the Minister of State for International Development and Diaspora. 

The President's Distinguished Service Award is presented by the President of Ireland each year, and it recognises the service given to Ireland or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland. Thirteen people from seven continents were chosen to receive a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for 2023, coming from fields including law, science, the arts, and business. 

Caoilfhionn was awarded in the category of Charitable Works and Advocacy, for her work as a leading human rights lawyer and barrister. Reference was made to her work concerning the rights of the Irish in Britain, such as leading the legal team acting for the family of Margaret Keane, overturning a ruling preventing them from using an Irish only inscription on her gravestone; acting for bereaved families of the Hillsborough Disaster and the 7/7 London Bombings; her groundbreaking work on children’s rights, with many of her cases defining the law in this area; and acting for many arbitrarily detained journalists, cartoonists, human rights defenders and peaceful protestors imprisoned around the world. Caoilfhionn is also Ireland’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection; a Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission; and an Adjunct Full Professor at UCD.

Other awardees included Philip Treacy, the world’s most in-demand hat designer; Fr Gabriel Dolan, Executive Director of the Human Rights Organisation Haki Yetu (Our Rights) in Kenya; and Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley of the Irish Arts Centre in New York. Awardees in previous years have included the actor Liam Neeson (2018) and presenter and London Irish Centre Patron Dermot O’Leary (2020).

More information is available here; and some coverage of this week’s award ceremony is available here and here.

Photography by Maxwell Photography