Special Olympics founder honoured
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen praised the courage and compassion of the woman who founded the Special Olympics as he welcomed home Ireland's competitors.
He said the work of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a sister of President John F Kennedy, had changed the lives of thousands if not millions around the world for the better.
"Eunice never gave up. She was wise, she was courageous and she was resilient," said Mr Cowen of Ms Kennedy Shriver, who died last year.
She has been honoured by the Government, which is to hold a Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day on the fourth Saturday of September every year.
Mr Cowen welcomed home the Irish Special Olympics team from the European Summer Games in Poland at Farmleigh at the weekend.
Celebrations included a torch run from the Garda Headquarters to Farmleigh involving 10 gardai and 10 PSNI officers.
Mr Cowen held the Special Olympics torch with Mark, Ms Kennedy Shriver's son, who she was pregnant with when President Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963.
He congratulated the athletes, who returned home from the games with 10 gold, eight silver and 11 bronze medals.
"Each of you have shown great motivation, discipline and tremendous skill in representing Ireland so well at the European Games."
Mr Kennedy Shriver, whose sister Maria is married to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, called on people to challenge themselves to see if they could do more to include "our special friends in our lives".
Special Olympics global ambassador Ann Hickey recalled her role in the 2003 games in Ireland and said her life had changed so much because of her involvement.