Three champions of Cork City’s poor and homeless were among those honoured with civic awards last night.

The head of the Irish Naval Service also accepted one of Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O’Leary’s six civic awards on behalf of the navy in recognition of its role in the Mediterranean humanitarian missions.

Mr O’Leary said all six nominees had shown great leadership and are role models worthy of their awards. He said he was particularly pleased to honour three people who selflessly are on the frontline in fighting homelessness and poverty.

“The awards mark the high calibre of those who play an important part of the civic life in the city,” he said.

“It is always difficult to choose one over another because of the quality of the contributions made by individuals and groups, and this year’s recipients maintain the standard of the awards at the highest level.”

The comments came as he honoured the city’s finest community volunteers and groups at the 12th annual Lord Mayor’s Civic and Community and Voluntary Awards ceremony in City Hall.

St Vincent de Paul campaigner Brendan Dempsey was honoured for his lifelong commitment to tackling poverty in the city, and for his work in recent years on the development of the Bia Food Initiative.

Cork Simon chief executive Dermot Kavanagh was honoured for his commitment to tackling homelessness and developing services for the homeless in Cork.

Caitríona Twomey, the driving force behind Cork Penny Dinners which is feeding more than 1,200 a week, was honoured for her work on behalf of the needy.

The other civic award winners included business leader and restaurateur Claire Nash, who runs Nash 19 on Prince’s St. She was recognised for her long-term contribution to developing and improving the city’s business environment.

Flag Officer Commanding of the Naval Service, Commodore Hugh Tully, was presented with an award in recognition of the Cork-based Naval Service’s contribution to the humanitarian missions in the Med, which have saved the lives of almost 10,000 people.

Maurice Dineen was honoured with a civic award for his work in the Ballyphehane area. He founded Club Ceoil Ballyphehane about seven years ago; it now hosts 120 children at trad classes every summer. He founded a karate club last year, and also found time to study youth and community work at University College Cork.

Mr O’Leary also presented community and voluntary awards to the Cork Deaf Folks Group, the Coal Quay Shawlies, to the Blarney Street and Surrounding Areas Community Association, to Shine a Light Suicide and Mental Health Awareness Group, and to the Masquerade Ball Rainbow Club. The overall winner was Childline Cork.

The awards, presented by Cork City Council, are sponsored by the Evening Echo.

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