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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 06:44 GMT
President presents Belfast 'Oscars'
Irish President Mary McAleese
The Irish President attended school in west Belfast
Irish President Mary McAleese has presented Belfast's versions of the Oscars at a gala event in the city.

Mrs McAleese, who is originally from north Belfast, was the guest of honour at the presentation of the Aisling Awards in a city centre hotel on Thursday night.

The awards, which are sponsored by the west Belfast based Andersonstown News, recognise outstanding contributions by community leaders in the fields of arts and culture, sports, inter-community endeavour, the Irish language and the environment.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the person of the year award which was won last year by Inez McCormack, the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

This year the award went to the director of Feile an Phobail, Caitriona Ruane.

The west Belfast based festival is now one of the biggest community events of its type in western Europe.

'Tribute to heroes'

Among the nominees for the sports award were Antrim GAA football manager Brian White and snooker star Joe Swail. The winner was named as champion boxer Damaen Kelly.

Nominees for the arts and culture award included the Ulster Orchestra and the west Belfast Feile an Phobail for the performance of Mozart's Requiem in Clonard Monastery to mark the centenary of the historic church.

Andersonstown News editor Robin Livingstone said the awards were a tribute to the "local heroes who are building up this great city".

The newspaper has recently built a 2m headquarters on the Glen Road in the west of the city and employs up to 40 fulltime workers.

Two editions of the Andersonstown News are published each week while it has a sister paper in north Belfast and also publishes an Irish language weekly, La.

Earlier this year it published a controversial photograph showing soldiers in the Royal Irish Regiment posing with an Orange Order banner associated with the Drumcree protest in Portadown.

The picture prompted a Ministry of Defence inquiry in which it was decided to take no action against the soldiers.

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07 Feb 00 | Northern Ireland
President marks monastery's century
13 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
No action over Drumcree army photo
13 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Row over soldiers in Drumcree photo
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