Home News Community Laois group triumph at Garda National Youth Awards 2020

Laois group triumph at Garda National Youth Awards 2020

Pictured at their base in JFL House, Portlaoise are Elaine Boyle,Clive Davis and two of the GirlTalk group Annalee Dowling and Saoirse Culleton

An Garda Síochána acknowledged over 180 young people who have made their community a better place to live today.

30 Garda National Youth Awards for 2020 are being presented to over 180 outstanding young people throughout the country at a local presentation in their respective areas.

Awards are been given to young people for doing such things as cleaning beaches, raising outstanding amounts of money for worthy causes and raising awareness on issues such as mental health.

And among them is a Laois group GirlTalk who were among seven winners in the Community Safety Award category.

GirlTalk is a group of young women in Youth Work Ireland ranging in age from 15 to 20 years from all across Laois.

The girls, which were represented by Annalee Dowling and Saoirse Culleton, were anxious to form a group that gave a safe space where girls from diverse backgrounds and minority status, such as young travellers, first generation Irish and members of LGBTI+ community, could have an empowering, supportive and encouraging space to develop skills, confidence and self-esteem whilst also having a safe space to discuss issues and topics relevant to their lives and times.

Taking a proactive stance, the girls of the group ran in the women’s mini marathon and magnanimously donated some of their funds to other charities whom they felt need support.

The group is currently working on a health and identity programme which will support themselves in their own self-development but will also reach out and empower other young women.

All of the award winners are excellent examples of young people who give up their free time to help and support others.

This is an especially strong message for all us at a time when we all individually and collectively across all age groups have to continue to work together to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

This year, the Garda National Youth Award ceremony was postponed due to the coivd-19 pandemic.

An Garda Síochána sought to still acknowledge all of the awards winners by hosting small local awards presentations and an online ceremony with the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Acting Deputy Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, and football legend Mr Bernard Brogan.

The online ceremony took place on October 29 which is being followed by local presentations over the next number of days.

Speaking at the online ceremony, Commissioner Harris welcomed everyone, congratulated them on their achievements and explained how unfortunately plans to acknowledge their great work at a presentation in Port Laois could not take place this year.

He said: “Obviously we would have all liked to gather as a community to celebrate your achievements but due to Covid-19 we are unable to do so.

“We in An Garda Síochána still wanted to gather everyone just as a simply way of acknowledging the outstanding work that you have all done to make your community a better place to live.

“The Garda National Youth Awards showcases the positive contribution you are all making in your communities. From An Garda Síochána’s point of view, the awards at national and divisional level are a great way for us to develop strong relationships with you and community groups in your area.

“I hope that you are proud of your achievements. The work you are all doing in your local communities is fantastic and we in An Garda Síochána wanted to let you all know that you have our gratitude.

“Since the pandemic began, young people have made an outstanding contribution to the countries efforts in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by doing things like making PPE and assisting those self-isolating.

“I’m sure many of you are and your friends are some of this young people contributing and I again want to thank you for your efforts.”

SEE ALSO – ELECTED: Laois County Board for 2021 confirmed following online convention

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.