Barnardos chief executive Fergus Finlay has been awarded a major human rights award by the French Embassy in Ireland.
Mr Finlay received the award at a ceremony in the Residence of France in Dublin.
The annual award, which is given by French embassies around the world, has previously been won here by Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty and Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan.
This prize recognises the commitment, courage and the generosity of human rights defenders.
Mr Finlay was chosen following a survey of Irish personalities from various sectors, including political, academic, and civil society.
At the ceremony, chargé d’affaires at the French Embassy in Ireland, Philippe Ray said the Barnardos boss was the overwhelming choice of those surveyed.
“This prize recognises the commitment, the courage and the generosity of human rights defenders. These advocates dedicate their lives, their time and their energy to protecting and defending the rights of those who are most vulnerable in our societies; all too often women and children.
“As we all know, defending children’s rights is a battle tirelessly fought by Fergus Finlay,” he said.
Although the award was given to Mr Finlay for his role as chief executive of Barnardos, Mr Ray acknowledged his work in fighting for equality generally.
“I wish to congratulate him for his lifelong commitment to the idea that there is no place for inequalities in society. This belief has manifested itself through various forms, from industrial relations to politics, with a strong emphasis on charity organisations and through his involvement in the Special Olympics.
“For almost a decade Mr Finlay has dedicated his work to Barnardos, convinced that childhood is of crucial importance in terms of nurturing within each adult-to-be an ability to view each human being as an equal,” he said.
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