Cabinet endorses Limerick woman’s British honours title

Dame Marianne Griffiths, the former Marianne O'Regan from Ballynanty.

A LIMERICK woman who was awarded the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth three years ago is to have the honour recognised by the Irish Government.

Marianne Griffiths, a native of Ballynanty in Limerick City, was named in the 2019 New Year Honours List for her services to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.

The DBE is the second-highest honour bestowed by the Queen and is the female equivalent to a knighthood. However such a title has no significance under Irish law and must be approved by the Cabinet for people who hold Irish citizenship.

The Constitution states that “titles of nobility shall not be conferred by the State and no title of nobility or of honour may be accepted by any citizen except with the prior approval of the Government”.

At its meeting last Tuesday, the Cabinet agreed to a request from Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney to sign off on the awards bestowed on Ms Griffiths and to Waterford-born Oxford academic Louise Richardson.

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Described as “one of the most influential and longest-serving senior leaders in the NHS”, 62 year-old Dame Marianne Griffiths is due to retire as chief executive of University Hospitals Sussex next month.

The former Marianne O’Regan began her career as a trainee nurse, before reading psychology at the University of Exeter and completing chartered accountancy examinations with KPMG.

In 2009 she became chief executive of the newly created Western Sussex Hospitals and in 2017, she took over running Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) after the UK Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated it as inadequate and placed it in special measures.

In 2018, the Limerick woman was named the top chief executive in the British Health Service Journal’s ranking of NHS bosses, a title she retained in 2019.

Last year, BSUH merged with Western Sussex Hospitals to become University Hospitals Sussex, a £1 billion a year trust, marking one of the most successful turnarounds of a trust placed in special measures by the health watchdog.