The country’s leading independent watchdog has been elected European Ombudsman.
Emily O’Reilly, the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner, was voted into the role by MEPs in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny led congratulations to Ms O’Reilly.
“It is an indication of her high calibre as a candidate and of the quality of the presentations she made,” he said.
“The fact that she had the full support of Irish MEPs is testament to her many years of work as Irish Ombudsman. I am delighted to wish her well in her appointment to her new role protecting the rights of EU citizens.”
Ms O’Reilly will continue in her Irish role until October 1 when she takes up her new position, replacing Nikiforos Diamandouros.
She was elected after a third round of voting.
Nessa Childers MEP said Ms O’Reilly will be a top class appointment.
“Now more than ever, we need a strong and independent watchdog for citizens’ rights working at the EU level,” she said.
“It was crucial that this important role remained politically independent. I am sure she will bring all her experience and competence to the role, to make the European Union a more transparent and a more citizen-focused Europe.”
Independent MEP Marian Harkin said Ms O’Reilly has all the necessary attributes for success in the job.
“By proactively engaging in online media and public discussions, Emily and her team will ensure that more people and institutions will be aware of the Ombudsman’s role, thus encouraging more people to bring cases forward,” she said.
The European Ombudsman is an independent body that investigates complaints about maladministration in EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.
Ms O'Reilly's promotion brings with it a salary of €250,000 a year. The Ombudsman's office is headquartered in Strasbourg.
President Michael D Higgins said the election showed how well respected she is.
“The fact that Ms O’Reilly was elected to this important post by the members of the European Parliament reflects the very high regard in which she is held across Europe,” he said.
“I thank Ms O’Reilly for her committed service as Irish Ombudsman over the last decade and wish her and her family well as she prepares to take up her new post in the autumn.”
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said Ms O'Reilly was a superb choice.
“It is important that EU institutions and the Ombudsman, together, get the message across that the European Union and its institutions care about people’s needs and problems and do everything that is in their power to address them in a concrete way,” he said.
“It is also important that the people of Europe understand their rights as EU citizens, including the right to complain to the Ombudsman.”