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26-09-2012

Three Irish MEPs win MEP of the Year awards 2012

Three of the 18 MEP of the year awards have been won by Irish members of the European Parliament. The prize giving ceremony took place on 25 September in Brussels organised by The Parliament magazine. Winners are chosen exclusively by fellow MEPs who vote on a short list of nominees.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin (North-West) won "MEP of the Year" Award in the field of EU Employment and Social Affairs. Sean Kelly (Ireland South) was awarded 'MEP of the Year' for Research and Innovation and Dublin's Gay Mitchell was named MEP of the Year for Development.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin  won her second consecutive "MEP of the Year" Award. Harkin, who last year scooped the "Outstanding Contribution" Award for her work during the European Year of Volunteering 2011, this year she was named MEP of the year in the field of EU Employment and Social Affairs.

The Ireland North & West MEP expressed her "surprise and delight that my colleagues saw fit to present me with this honour for the second year in a row". "These are challenging times for Europeans everywhere and I sincerely hope that the efforts of my colleagues and I play some small part in the bigger challenge of finding practical, innovative solutions to help return the EU to growth and employment,' she said.

Sean Kelly (Ireland South) was awarded 'MEP of the Year' for Research and Innovation. Speaking after the event last night, Mr Kelly said he was "honoured" by the recognition, especially since it was for a subject so close to his heart. "I have always been passionate about innovation and have enjoyed using my position as an MEP to prioritise research and development opportunities across the EU. "Europe must become the world leader in R&D and scientific innovation. It is the responsibility of politicians to encourage and support growth in this sector through funding grants and positive, effective policies. "

Dublin's Gay Mitchell was named MEP of the Year for Development.

Mr Mitchell dedicated last night's award to all religious missionaries, NGOs and others who gave their lives to helping the people of the developing world:

"Ireland once had a child mortality rate of 47 for every 1,000 births, now we have the lowest rate in the world. Worldwide, there are 23,000 children dying every day in the developing world. But that figure used to be 36,000. So, 13,000 more children are living each day because of the contributions of those people who dedicate their lives to helping others and those who contribute financially, including the taxpayer. We have it down to 68 per 1000, not that far beyond where Ireland once was. We can do in the developing world what we did in Ireland."