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It's wrong that our heroes are only getting honours from Britain's Queen - TD

IRELAND needs its own version of the British queen's birthday list to recognise the achievements of outstanding citizens, claims a TD.

The move would open the door for an annual award ceremony to recognise people for their contribution to Irish life.

In recent years a growing number have been included in the Queen's Honours including Liam Neeson, Terry Wogan and Bob Geldolf.

Legion

Others such as former President Mary Robinson have been awarded by the United States, while Irish citizens have also been given France's Legion d'Honneur.

But there is no formal way that people to recognise our quiet heroes.

Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews wants an award for outstanding citizens including people from the fields of arts, sports and business.

"I believe that the establishment of such an award would be viewed very positively by the Irish people," he said.

Several other countries have a formal process for rewarding their countrymen and the achievements of some exceptional non-nationals.

The Order of the British Empire honours civilian and service personnel. Awards to citizens of countries of which the queen is not head of state are honorary awards.

The most recent Irish recipient of an honorary OBE was Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan. Queen Elizabeth saluted Mr Colgan's services to cultural relations between UK and Ireland.

Deputy Andrews has written to the Committee on Tourism, Culture, Sport, Community and Gaeltacht Affairs and Taoiseach Brian Cowen to propose that the awards would be run through the Office of the President and winners selected by an independent panel.

The TD suggested that someone like Olympic medallist Sonia O'Sullivan would be a fitting winner.

"She has lifted our mood with her achievements and it is important at a time like this to acknowledge that we do many things right."

But he wryly told the Herald: "No sitting politician would be in the running."

kdoyle@herald.ie