Independent MEP Marian Harkin this week won her second consecutive MEP of the Year Award at a prizegiving ceremony in Brussels.
Harkin, who last year scooped the Outstanding Contribution award for her work during the European Year of Volunteering 2011, this year claimed the top prize in the field of EU Employment and Social Affairs.
The Ireland North and West MEP expressed her “surprise and delight that my colleagues saw fit to present me with this honour for the second year in a row”.
“These are challenging times for Europeans everywhere and I sincerely hope that the efforts of my colleagues and me play some small part in the bigger challenge of finding practical, innovative, solutions to help return the EU to growth and employment,” she said.
She emphasised the importance of the social perspective of her work, noting that “during this economic crisis when European citizens are under pressure we need a counterbalance to austerity, and the work of the Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee is extremely important in this regard, both in the proposals we put forward and the ideas we articulate”.
Harkin's award reflected her central involvement in important dossiers such as the European Globalisation Fund (EGF ), EU Microfinance strategies, efforts to combat youth unemployment, and measures to improve health and safety in workplaces.
She added: “I am also pleased to be part of a 'troika' of Irish MEP award winners this year, and I salute my colleagues Sean Kelly and Gay Mitchell for their effort and endeavour in their respective fields. They, like me, strive to do their best for Ireland both at home and in Brussels, and these awards are a generous recognition of this work.”