A CORK woman has been awarded the second highest national order of France at an event in Dublin's French Embassy Residence.
Noelle O'Connor from Killard near Blarney was presented with the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite for her commitment to promoting Irish and French connections.
Noelle is the current Executive Director of European Movement Ireland-Independent, not-for-profit organisation providing information, training and advice to Irish people and businesses wishing to connect with the EU.
Prior to joining EM Ireland, she had established her own training, education and business development consultancy. Previous clients included CITA, BAM Contractors Ltd and Irish Institute of Training and Development. She also served as New Markets and Business Development Consultant for Public Affairs Ireland. Noelle’s other clients included Dublin Institute of Technology, the Construction Industry Federation, Engineers Ireland and the Higher Education Authority.
Ireland's French Ambassador, HE Jean-Pierre Thébault heaped praise on the award recipient during the ceremony.
“By the dynamism and involvement she has shown both as Executive Director of European Movement Ireland and as a member of the Board of the Alliance Française, Noelle has demonstrated her unique qualities and sense of service to public affairs, Europe and the deepening of the relationship between Ireland and France,” he said. “Her career is also a testament to the important role women play in public life for the benefit of the community.” Ms O Connell also spoke on the day adding:
“We are living in imperfect, challenging and interesting times. As the well-known Irish expression goes, ní neart go cur le chéile; and with the French national motto of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ in mind, now more than ever is strength, reason and unity required. We must be brave and campaign for what we have faith in, fight for the values we cherish and hold dear, and make a positive and vocal stand for what we believe in.”
The National Order of Merit was founded back in 1963 by President Charles de Gaullle. Its purpose was to replace the large number of ministerial orders previously awarded by ministries and to create an award that can be issues at a lower level than the Legion of Honour- generally reserved for French citizens. It comprises around 187,000 members worldwide.