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Champions of the changing city are recognised at gala event

The First and Deputy First Ministers and the family of Harry Holland, the greengrocer murdered in West Belfast in September, were honoured at the Aisling Awards last week at the Europa Hotel.

The Person of the Year Award went to First and Deputy First Minister Dr Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness and was presented to Mr McGuinness representing the Office of First and Deputy First Minister by President Mary McAleese, while Harry Holland’s family was added to the Roll of Honour.

The award was presented to his wife Pauline and four daughters by Belfast’s Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers.

The family was nominated by the readers of the Andersonstown News, South Belfast News and North Belfast News in recognition both of their dignified and brave leadership since Mr Holland’s murder and the part he played in the West Belfast community.

The family has since launched a campaign called Justice for the Victims Campaign which calls for tougher action to be taken against anti-social behaviour.

Robin Livingstone, Chairperson of the Judging Panel, said: “No two people symbolise the changing face of Belfast better than our First and Deputy First Ministers whose leadership has been inspirational during the last 12 months.

“We had many nominations to add to our Roll of Honour from across the city and Harry Holland’s name came up more often than any other.

“His input into the community of West Belfast and fight against anti-social behaviour has obviously touched those who knew him and we feel it a fitting tribute to him to honour his family. ”

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “I am honoured to accept this Aisling Award as an endorsement by the Belfast public of the great political progress which we have all made this year and am confident it will spur on political leaders to continue their efforts to create a better future for all the people of this island.”

Harry’s wife Pauline said on receiving the award: “The Holland Family view this as a great tribute to Harry and his memory from the people of the city he loved and we believe this award will highlight the continuing need to keep our streets and neighbourhoods safe.”

Mr Holland was described by the First and Deputy First Ministers as a “decent and honourable man” and was viewed as a community champion by those who lived and work around him.

More than 1,000 people attended his funeral proving he was well respected and well liked and his family will continue to seek justice for both their personal loss and the loss his death has caused the community.

The awards were sponsored by Bank of Ireland and Colm McKenna, Head of Marketing, Bank of Ireland (NI), said: “We are delighted to support these awards again which have become an important event in the Belfast calendar.

“The people of Belfast have become more successful, financially secure and self-confident and are taking the opportunities offered to them.

“2007 has seen huge change across the city and the people being awarded tonight are rightfully recognised for the part they have played.”

Awards recipients:

  • Educational…

Winner… CBS Boys’ School

  • Culture and Arts…

Winner… Terry George

  • Inter-community…

Winner… Ligoneil Improvement Association & Ballysillan Community Forum

  • Sporting…

Winner… Gort na Móna CLG

  • Community…

Winner… Windsor Women’s Centre

  • Irish Award…

Winner… Cré na Cille

  • Belfast’s Best Business…

Winner… Botanic Inns

  • Person of the Year…

Winner… First and Deputy First Ministers

  • Roll of Honour…

Winner… The Holland family

Aisling Awards 2007 Sponsors:

Aisling Awards 2007 In Magazine: