One of Ireland’s leading advocates for human rights, Mary Lawlor, has been awarded the 2023 Irish Red Cross Lifetime Achievement Award for her work supporting human rights and the vulnerable in society.
Ms Lawlor is currently the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights defenders and is also adjunct professor of business and human rights in Trinity College Dublin. She is also the founder and former executive director of Front Line Defenders.
She said: “This is a tremendous honour for me to accept this award, recognising those who work for human rights in communities all around Ireland and abroad, where so many contribute to the protection of rights, even when it is not popular to do so. Without them, change will happen, but not the sort of change the world so urgently needs today.”
Secretary general of the Irish Red Cross, Deirdre Garvey, said: “The inspiring and courageous work by Mary Lawlor in defending the crucial role of human rights has never been more relevant or important.
"Her track record in supporting human rights and the vulnerable in society, including the right of those seeking asylum and those who defend refugee rights, is unquestioned and she is an example of the best in Irish society.
"Irish people have never been found wanting in coming to the aid of those less fortunate and this has been especially evident in the past 12 months in pledging homes and donating money towards the ongoing crisis in Ukraine which has seen the displacement of millions of people in our own European continent.
“The current level of protests in Ireland against vulnerable refugees and migrants who are fleeing global challenges like conflict, strife and environmental catastrophes is a concern and a challenge. These minority voices do not reflect the understanding and compassionate views of the majority of Irish people in our experience.”