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Neal to be honored by ancient order of Hibernians in American

July 3, 2006
Press Release

Will be awarded prestigious JFK Memorial Medal in Boston


(SPRINGFIELD) Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) will be awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Memorial Medal by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) in America at their 93rd National Convention in Boston on Thursday. Formed in New York in 1836, the AOH is the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States. A leading figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, Congressman Neal will receive the award because of his ongoing efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to the island of Ireland.

"As the grandson of Irish immigrants, this award is especially meaningful to me. Like so many in my generation, I became involved in politics and government because of John F. Kennedy. To receive a medal named after the late President from such a prominent organization is a great honor. I am very grateful to the members of the AOH for this special recognition," said Congressman Neal.

The AOH's highest honor was established in 1964 in memory of John F. Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic American elected President of the United States. Previous JFK Memorial Medal recipients include His Eminence John Cardinal O'Connor, the late Archbishop of New York; 1998 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate John Hume; Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams; and Fr. Aidan Troy of the Holy Cross Trust in Belfast.

"The medal is the most prestigious award given by our noble order. Your selection from a distinguished field of candidates is a tribute to your unwavering support for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, including all of the policing reforms recommended by the Patten Commission. In addition, the award recognizes your many years as a true champion of human rights for the Catholic nationalist community in the north of Ireland. And indeed, your staunch record of support for all issues pertaining to Ireland, both north and south," said John J. Meehan, Jr., National Vice President, Ancient Order of Hibernians.

The AOH is the oldest and largest Irish Catholic organization in the United States. The early AOH in America remained a secret society, and little is known of its activities except that it provided a monetary stipend to immigrants who arrived as members of Irish societies, assisted Irish immigrants in obtaining jobs and social services, and became nurseries for the preservation of Irish heritage in America.  The organization remains committed to working for the total independence of a united 32 county Ireland.

Congressman Richard E. Neal is the Co-Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Irish Affairs. He is widely recognized as the leading Democrat in the U.S House of Representatives on issues that relate to Irish affairs. He has been deeply involved in the effort to end the conflict in Northern Ireland for three decades.