2009 guest speaker

Mary McAleese
President of Ireland

It gives me great pleasure to send my best wishes to the 126 recipients of the 2009 All Ireland Scholarship Awards.

The scholarships this year are truly an all-Ireland affair with scholars from every county on the island. Each of the winners can be truly proud of his or her achievements, the result of years of consistent hard work, and I warmly congratulate all of them. Of course, achieving such excellent Leaving Certificate or A Level results is rarely a solo run and so I would also like to congratulate their families, teachers and schools for their input and support.

The All Ireland Scholarships are a recognition of the very best students from less advantaged backgrounds and are an opportunity for these students to showcase their remarkable achievement. The scholarships will provide vital support to these students throughout their undergraduate courses. They will help increase the participation of under-represented groups in higher education and will help ensure that these talented students can explore every aspect of their potential without being limited by financial constraints.

I would like to thank J.P. McManus, the Department of Education and Science and the Northern Ireland Department of Education and the Department for Employment and Learning for funding and operating the All Ireland Scholarship scheme. The scheme will make a real difference in the lives of each of the recipients. I have no doubt but that the beneficiaries will use this opportunity to fully embrace all the exciting possibilities offered by third-level education. Education is the key to unlocking, harvesting and harnessing the vast potential of our young people and in the future, Ireland will draw from the talents, skills and experience of these remarkable young people to help us sustain our peace, return to prosperity and build a better, fairer society.

To all the prize winners, I send my warmest congratulations. Many of you have overcome disadvantaged circumstances to reach the highest academic standards in your secondary education and I wish you all well as you move on to the next very exciting stage of your journey. Congratulations, this is a remarkable opportunity, one that I am sure you will use wisely and well, and I hope you enjoy every minute of it.

Martin O’Neill was the Guest Speaker at the 2009 Award Ceremony