Ambassador Kevin F O'Malley receives the inaugural Kennedy-Lemass Medal at Thanksgiving ceremony

  • Release Date: 25/11/2016
Ambassador Kevin F O'Malley receives the inaugural
Kennedy-Lemass Medal at Thanksgiving ceremony
American Chamber of Commerce Ireland President Bob Savage calls for ambitious vision for Ireland 

Ambassador Kevin F O'Malley has become the first recipient of the Kennedy-Lemass Medal in the presence of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and 870 guests at a ceremony organised by the American Chamber of Commerce today during the annual Thanksgiving Lunch at The Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.  The inaugural Kennedy-Lemass medal was awarded to the Ambassador by the American Chamber to acknowledge his outstanding contribution to deepening the US-Ireland relationship. 
Speaking at the event, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: 'I am delighted that the American Chamber chose Ambassador O’Malley to receive the inaugural Kennedy-Lemass medal for his wonderful contribution to Irish American relations. Ambassador O’Malley has built a strong legacy of new lasting relationships between our two countries. His fantastic work continues the ever-evolving relationship between Ireland and the United States, which has historically been built on an intertwined history, a global outlook, shared values and the movement of countless people across the Atlantic between our two lands. Today our economic relationship is becoming ever more important in building new links between us. The US is the single largest source of Foreign Direct Investment to Ireland, and with increasing numbers of Irish enterprises exporting to and locating in the US, Ireland will continue to work to nurture and to grow the relationship into the future.

To attract new investment opportunities the Government and our State agencies will continue to make the strong case for Ireland - our people, our pro-enterprise culture, our policy certainty, and our outward looking European disposition - so that we can be the winning choice every time.' 
Bob Savage, American Chamber President welcomed the attendees at the event, saying “I believe it is particularly appropriate that we honour Ambassador O’Malley on Thanksgiving Day. He has been a compelling advocate for the two way economic relationship and the substance of US business investment in Ireland. At critical moments over the past two years he has countered harmful misrepresentations of this relationship with crystal clear and objective accounts of the talent he has seen, the contribution that they make and his firm belief that talent is the number one reason why US companies locate in Ireland.”
“In October, 1963, President John F. Kennedy welcomed Taoiseach Sean Lemass to the White House”, said Bob Savage, “Lemass’ US visit came four months after JFK’s historic visit to Ireland in June 1963.  Sean Lemass told President Kennedy that Ireland was casting aside decades of isolationism and protectionism and was opening up to the world for trade and investment.

Lemass told his US audience “We are not seeking financial aid, but are trying to build our economy by our own efforts and with our own resources”.  President Kennedy, whose ambitions included sending man to the moon, would surely have been astonished if he realised where the Kennedy-Lemass era would lead us.”
“The 140,000 talented people working for US companies in Ireland are producing world-class products and services that are saving and enhancing lives all around the world and transforming how we live and work,” said Bob Savage. “These successes are due in no small part to some visionary “big bets” that Ireland took in the 1960’s including:
  • The introduction of free second level schooling with free school transportation
  • The establishment of Regional Technical Colleges, the forerunner of our Institutes of Technology
  • The adoption of pro-enterprise economic policies”
“Now is not the time to become alarmist or defeatist because the world is less certain,” said Bob Savage, “Now is the time to honour the Kennedy-Lemass tradition and agree the changes and reforms that Ireland is prepared to take so that in 50 years’ time the US-Ireland relationship will provide our grandchildren’s generation with far more opportunity that we had. Changes such as:
  • Ensuring that the Irish education system prepares students to embrace the next transformative technological wave
  • Ensuring national access to high-speed broadband – soon!
  • Ensuring that all those who want to build a life and career in Ireland have sufficient choice of places to live and to send their children to school
  • To remove the barriers that particularly prevent girls at school realising their potential in STEM subjects and barriers to female participation in the workplace
  • Stop expecting others to be able to do business with us in English and to take seriously the education responsibility that arises from wanting to attract a multinational talent pool here”
Accepting the inaugural Kennedy-Lemass medal, Ambassador O'Malley said: "Thanksgiving is a great all American celebration of gratitude for all we have been given. Even in these challenging times, we have so much to be thankful for.  We look forward to all the opportunities we have to further strengthen and expand the bonds that make the Irish-American connection so great."