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Panti and Garda whistleblowers are three of the People of the Year

Justice campaigner Louise O’Keeffe, Bee for Battens founders Mary and Liam Heffernan and Console founder Paul Kelly also among winners.

Image: Robbie Reynolds Photography

EQUALITY ACTIVIST AND entertainer Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, has been honoured at this year’s Rehab People of the Year Awards, along with two Garda whistleblowers.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the annual ceremony was presented by Gráinne Seoige and broadcast live on RTÉ One television from Dublin’s Citywest Hotel this evening.

The other winners included:

 

People of the Year 14 Rory O'Neill Source: Robbie Reynolds Photography

O’Neill, who performs as drag artist Panti won the award for, according to judges “his courage and defiance in fighting for freedom of expression and breaking down barriers to equality”. British actor, campaigner and broadcaster Stephen Fry – who had previously praised Panti’s Noble Call speech at the Abbey about oppression – flew in to give over the award:

Maurice McCabe and John Wilson were awarded for “their bravery in speaking out to ensure the law was upheld and that the public receive the police service that it requires”.

“McCabe and Wilson’s desire to tell the truth was met with resistance on many levels and on many occasions, yet they pursued the issues with integrity and bravery, ultimately leading to increased scrutiny of practices within public bodies, as well as a full review of Ireland’s police force.”

People of the Year 05 Owen Condon Source: Robbie Reynolds Photography

Aged just 17, Owen Condon is the recipient of this year’s Everyday Hero award after he courageously saved the life of Gerry O’Connell.

Owen was washing cars at the local petrol station on a Saturday morning when Gerry suffered a massive heart attack while stopping to buy petrol. Owen, along with the help of another customer, performed life-saving CPR on Gerry for seven minutes while they waited for an ambulance. Gerry went on to have a quadruple bypass that night and made a full recovery.

Owen’s bravery was all the more remarkable for the fact that he had tried to save a young friend who got into difficulties swimming a few months earlier. Owen performed CPR on his friend but sadly, his pal died.

“To think he went through that trauma, and still did what he did for me,” said Mr O’Connell last night.

Read: Brave teenager who completed his Junior Cert while battling leukemia receives award

Read: Which Irish paper has just been named European Newspaper of the Year?

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