Former Trócaire staff member and Dungannon native, Sally O’Neill, who tragically passed away earlier this year is among the ten recipients of this year’s Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad.
Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra welcomed the awards, saying, “Trócaire is delighted to see the work of Sally recognised and awarded by President Michael D. Higgins.”
“It is a fitting honour for her to receive this award posthumously. She worked tirelessly with Trócaire for 37 years, dedicating her life to improving the lives of others. She was a courageous and passionate advocate for justice and human rights.”
Sally tragically died in April this year following a road accident in Guatemala.
From Dungannon, Sally joined Trócaire in 1978 and dedicated her life to working with the poor, the marginalised and victims of human rights abuses.
Sally worked primarily on Trócaire projects in Latin America but she was also involved in providing famine relief in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and established Trócaire’s programme in Somalia in the early 1990s in response to a famine there. Prior to her retirement, Sally was Trócaire’s Head of Region for Latin America based in Honduras.
At Sally O’Neill’s memorial service earlier this year, President Higgins spoke, praising her lifetime of dedication to working with the marginalised and oppressed. “She was the greatest gift that Ireland gave to the Latin world in contemporary times,” President Higgins said.
“Sally did not just speak of how we should treat our fellow citizens with dignity and respect, she showed so many how to do it,” said President Higgins.