THE Taoiseach has pledged that Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty will be honoured by the Irish government for his heroic deeds during World War II.
Enda Kenny, speaking in Killarney on Saturday night during the Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Weekend, said it would be "only a matter of time" before the Kerry cleric was recognised on a national scale.
In his address, at a ceremony to mark the presentation of the Hugh O'Flaherty International Humanitarian Award, the Taoiseach said he hoped the State recognition would happen by 2014, the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.
""It is time we recognise and honour our Irish World War II heroes and I hope that by 2014, the 75th anniversary of the start of WW2, that this will be in place," he said. "" What the Monsignor and people like him displayed is that it is possible and very important to care beyond ourselves," Taoiseach Kenny added.
Monsignor O'Flaherty's remarkable selfless acts in Nazi-occupied Rome saved the lives of almost 7,000 persecuted people, including Allied POWs and Jews.
His successful evasion of a relentless Nazi operation to capture him and put an end to the 'Rome Escape Line' was told in the film ' The Scarlet and the Black' starring Gregory Peck.
And, though a commemorative plaque was erected by Killarney Town Council some time ago on his former Plunkett Street residence, and a number of books have been written about the monsignor, his life-story was in danger of being lost; until that is, the establishment of the Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Weekend.
Now, in its fifth year, the Memorial Weekend has grown bigger with each passing year and recognition for Monsignor O'Flaherty on a national scale would be just reward for the hardworking organisers of the event.
This year's Hugh O'Flaherty International Humanitarian Award was conferred upon Sr Agnes Hunt, for her dedication to prisoners abroad through her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas.