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Final call for nominations for Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards

Standing on the banks of the River Shannon with the bridge at Lanesboro/Ballyleague in the background to promote the Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards are: Coordinator of the Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards Garda Angela Mullooly; Chief Executive Roscommon County Council Eugene Cummins; Chairman of Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards Inspector David Cryan; Roscommon-Longford Garda Division Chief Superintendent Tony Healy and Chief Executive Longford County Council Paddy Mahon.  

Supported by Longford and Roscommon County Councils

 Press Release

16 April 2021

Longford and Roscommon County Councils are delighted to be associated with An Garda Síochána and the third annual Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards.

With just over a week to go until the deadline for entries on 30 April 2021, local organisations are being urged to consider nominating a local young person or relevant group between the ages of 13 and 21 in one of four categories. Awards will be considered for nominees who make their communities a better place to live. 

Roscommon-Longford Garda Division Chief Superintendent Tony Healy welcomed the sponsorship of Roscommon and Longford County Councils for the awards. “I am very pleased that the third annual Garda Youth Awards are going ahead within the Division, despite a global pandemic and delighted with the support of both local authorities. We in An Garda Síochána recognise that a lot of good work is being done by young people in all communities within the counties of Longford and Roscommon and it is only fitting that we provide a platform whereby they can be recognised for their efforts in making their schools, groups, local areas a better place to live in”.

Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Paul Ross is looking forward to the event which will be held virtually this year, in line with public health restrictions. “We all know 2020 was a difficult year and there are young people in every community that have made significant contributions so it’s great to reward that.”

Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council Laurence Fallon welcomed the awards and the work that they represent. “It’s wonderful to see such a strong bond developing between our younger generations and An Garda Síochána through the work that is being done in our communities.”

Chairperson of the Roscommon-Longford Youth Awards Inspector David Cryan commented that this is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to nominate a young person, or persons, within their community, who they feel should be recognised for their contribution to their local area during 2020. “It’s important to remember that due to COVID-19, there hasn’t been the same opportunity for young people to become involved with activities or projects compared to previous years. However, we have also witnessed that many young people were active on the ground throughout the COVID-19 crisis, volunteering and becoming involved in a variety of projects that supported both the vulnerable in the community, and the frontline services.” 

Winners will be chosen in four categories:

·         Individual – where a young person has made a positive contribution to their community making it a better place to live

·         Group – where two or more made a positive contribution to their community making it a better place to live

·         Special Achievement – where a young person has overcome difficult circumstances, defied all the odds and whose commitment deserves recognition

·         Community Safety – where a young person or persons, through a crime prevention or safety initiative/innovation, have made their community a safer place to live in

We are proud that previous Roscommon-Longford Division winners have gone on to win at national level and therefore, we are urging our local communities to consider nominating relevant people, organisations or groups so that they too can be recognised for their perseverance, commitment, hard work or contribution.

The Roscommon-Longford Garda Youth Awards will be presented at a virtual ceremony before the end of May. A judging panel will decide upon a nominee in each category and their nomination form will then go forward to represent the Roscommon-Longford Garda Division at the National Garda Youth Awards in October 2021. 

Nomination forms can be requested from Roscommon.GardaYouthAwards@garda.ie and are available for download on www.garda.ie , www.roscommoncoco.ie and www.longfordcoco.ie.

In order to qualify, completed nomination forms (in typed format) and media consent forms should be emailed to Roscommon.GardaYouthAwards@Garda.ie or posted/handed into the Community Policing Unit at Castlerea / Granard / Longford / Roscommon Garda stations before 5pm on Friday, 30 April, 2021.

ENDS

Media queries should be directed to Longford County Council Communications Officer Denise Canavan on mediaenquiries@longfordcoco.ie or 043 33 43362.

Editor’s Note: Background Information

Detail on previous category and national winners for 2019 and 2020 for information below

2019

Individual Category – WINNER - Eric Ehigie, a resident of Longford Town but a student in Moyne Community School, was the Divisional winner of our ‘Individual’ category and he went on to win at National level also.  At the time of his nomination, Eric was studying for the Leaving Certificate examination while also carrying out various roles such as Welfare Officer for the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) and a Youth Co-ordinator for the Longford African Network.  He was extremely active in student interest groups within and outside the school structure and at the time was Chairman of Moyne Community School Student Council.  He was a very popular winner and he has been strong in his involvement in various issues since.

Individual Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Gabrielle Flynn from Longford Town who had been an active member of Foróige, the Attic House and Comhairle na nÓg for several years.  She was central to promoting mental health awareness with students in schools and led the HOPE wristband campaign (Hold on, Pain Ends) in Longford. 

Special Achievement Category – WINNER – Cian Farry, Arigna, Co. Roscommon – Cian had faced huge personal challenges in his formative years that had begun to lead him down some difficult and dangerous paths.  While others were there to help him, it was his own decisions and determination to ‘right’ the wrongs he faced that led this young man, not just to follow a better path, but to forge a better path for himself.  In doing so, he acted as a mentor, trainer and guide to others.  He rebuilt relationships and gave back to the community, especially his own peers, by giving his time, experiences, commitment and studies to help better the lives of young people facing into the difficulties he conquered.

Special Achievement Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – John O’Reilly, Newtowncashel, Co Longford - a young man who coped with serious personal issues and addictions to become a sought-after mentor and volunteer at summer camps with youth groups in South Longford.  He is an example to his peers and a standard bearer in school against any forms of bullying or abuse.

Group Category – WINNER – Moyne Community School Young Social Innovators - This YSI group was nominated for their involvement with ‘Senior Friends’ in the area.  The students met up with the Senior Friends in their own time giving up their lunchtime and participated in various activities, e.g. yoga, music, sharing of information on technology, baking etc.  There was a sharing of life experience, a giving of advice in a spirit of fun and ultimately a great respect developed among the two generations during these interactions.  The group brought along their Senior Friends to the presentation of their Award at the offices at Longford County Council in March 2019 and the whole group then subsequently featured on the ‘Today’ show on RTE television.

Group Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Castlerea Youth Work Ireland Midlands Group - Laura Fannon, Clodagh McFadden, Bronagh Boylan, Sean Murray, Dylan Gaughan and Shane Keenan - a positive and friendly group that established successful youth groups in Castlerea, Ballaghaderreen and Frenchpark.  They designed and transformed the new youth space in Castlerea for these meetings and activities into bright, friendly and welcoming venues through their art and painting and contribute to many community projects, including stewarding and volunteering at the ‘Darkness into Light’ walk.

Group Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION - Roscommon Foróige Youth Research Panel – Nominated for researching the opinions of young people regarding the mental health and LGBTQ+ services available to young people in Roscommon.  Their work and research will be used to focus and guide service providers in the county to address the needs of young people and ensure that all young people’s voices are heard.

Community Safety Category – WINNER – Tommie Cunningham – Tommie, a Youth Leader at Granard Youth Club who wanted to raise awareness among his peers of drugs and alcohol abuse, but to go beyond the colourful handouts and booklets available and make a real impact using real people to get the message across.  To this end he organised and implemented a six-week programme of events and encouraged his peers, members of his group and social circle to take an active role in attending and taking part in the workshops he organised.  Through his role with Comhairle na nÓg he was able to fully research the topics and arranged for a number of guest speakers to attend and meet with participants.  These speakers included those who battled addictions and the problems associated with same.  In this way, he ensured that a lack of knowledge could not be used as an excuse to those who decided to engage in risky and wrong behaviour.  The use of guest speakers and the focus on practical art projects as a way to embed the message ensured an active and lasting participation from his peers.

Community Safety Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Danola Boys Group, Longford - Following the death by drowning of their friend and fellow Attic House member in 2017, the Attic Boys Group was established to help young people deal with the bereavement caused by the tragedy.  It then developed into a group that brought Water Safety to their peers and ethnic minorities by establishing and implementing an 8-week water safety course and swimming lessons.  In doing so, the Attic Boys group brought a greater awareness and level of water safety to young people in Co. Longford.

2020

Individual Category – WINNER – Chloe Hickey, Longford Town – Chloe was nominated for volunteering at the Attic House five days a week making it a record performance of any of the Youth Leaders.  Her constant encouragement of young people’s participation in activities contributed to their greater attendance while working in favour of reducing anti-social behaviour in Longford.

Individual Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Joshua Harris, Longford Town – A member of the Attic House, Joshua has been their youngest volunteer to date.  Dedicated to making his community a better place, Joshua helped with all activities in the Attic House and other parts of the community.  Some of volunteering roles included facilitating community events such as Car Wash for Direct Provision Centre, Fun Run 5K fundraiser, Christmas Party Fest for the primary children in the community and regular disco supervision.

Special Achievement Category – WINNER – Deasun Kelly – Ballinalee, Co Longford -  As a person who lives with Autism, Deasun, a student at St Mel’s College, Longford, was nominated for taking on the challenge of informing students across the primary and secondary schools in Longford what Autism is, and what the strengths and challenges of living with it are.

Special Achievement Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Keith Gallagher, Ballaghaderreen – Despite receiving ongoing rigorous treatment and frequent hospital visits for a serious illness, Keith demonstrated outstanding commitment to learning a positive attitude and an empathy and concern for the welfare of others.  This involved endurance of fatigue, discomfort and sickness on a regular basis.  He has presented with exceptional maturity for his age.  Through difficult experiences he has grown in positivity, courage and optimism.

Group Category – WINNER – CBS Roscommon -  Aaron Shannon, DJ Hession and Ruairi Tiernan -  The teenagers were nominated for their commitment in working alongside their school friends in the Edmund Rice Centre, helping them with trips to the swimming pool and library and organising a number of games and activities for them to take part in. The inclusion of students with special needs in a real meaningful way in the school and community shows empathy and understanding in the teenagers, which sometimes may not be seen in this age group.  Building inclusion in the community is at the forefront of an inclusive society and these transition year students are paving the way.                                                                       

Group Category – SPECIAL RECOGNITION – Longford Youth Bank Group – Is a committee which is led by young people who are involved in grant-making in their local community.  Each year the group explores issues and concerns relevant to them and young people in their community.  The group established that ‘Mental Health, Youth Homelessness and Drug and Alcohol Abuse’ were some of the key issues facing young people.  They held fundraisers and invited local youth groups to apply for funding under the three themes they had established.  A total of €1,500 was allocated to young groups who held events raising awareness on the three key issues.

Community Safety Category – WINNER – Granard Youth Club - The club was nominated for the members’ efforts to integrate families who were resettled in Granard from Syria.  As part of this effort they carried out a 3-day outdoor event at Higginstown GAA grounds that involved two professional orienteering experts overseeing the creation of scenarios of mock violence, aggression and frightening behaviour to give them an insight into what these families had fled from.  Representing the Roscommon-Longford Garda Division the group were also worthy winners of a National Garda Youth Award.

(There was no Special Recognition given in the Community Safety Category in 2020.)