Gay Irish Catholic priest to receive Distinguished Service Award from President Michael D Higgins
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Gay Irish Catholic priest to receive Distinguished Service Award from President Michael D Higgins

FR BERNARD LYNCH, a gay Irish Catholic priest from Co Clare, is to receive the prestigious Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from President Michael D Higgins.

The Ennis-born man of the cloth is being given the award by the President on November 21 in recognition of his work in the LGBT+ community and the support he has provided to those living with AIDS and HIV abroad.

Bernard Lynch from moved from Ireland to serve as a missionary in Africa in the 1960s.

He moved to the United States in the 1970s where he served as a chaplain to Dignity/NY (for LGBT Catholics). When AIDS hit in 1981 Bernard Lynch ministered to many hundreds of those feared and shunned even by their own families at the time. Bernard stood up for equal justice for LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS.

Lynch spent over twenty years in New York City before moving to London, where he has worked on HIV/Aids issues since 1992. He was a founding Co-Chair of the London Irish LGBT group.

In 2013, Bernard Lynch was the first appointee by The Mayor of London’s St. Patrick’s Advisory Board to represent the Irish in London LGBT community. Bernard’s task was to assist in changing the perception of the LGBT community and to ensure LGBT representation was sensitively included in the St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival. As a result of Bernard’s contribution, the LGBT community today is fully integrated into London’s St. Patrick’s Festival.

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The Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad is presented by the President every year. It recognises the service given to this country or to Irish communities abroad by those who live outside Ireland.

The Award is not an honours system. It doesn’t give the recipients any legal entitlements or benefits, including Irish citizenship.