Former Ardoyne priest Fr Gary Donegan recognised with community relations award

Fr Gary Donegan was presented with the Annual Community Relations Exceptional Achievement Award

FORMER Holy Cross priest Fr Gary Donegan has been honoured for his community relations work.

Fr Donegan, who was at Ardoyne's Holy Cross Church for 15 years before moving to Tobar Mhuire in Crossgar, Co Down, was presented with the Annual Community Relations Exceptional Achievement Award.

It recognises exceptional achievement of an individual in promoting community relations, intercultural work or peace building in Northern Ireland.

Fr Donegan ministered in north Belfast during some of its most turbulent years. The parish lost 99 people during the Troubles - the largest loss of life in any parish. He was also rector during the blockade of Holy Cross Girls Primary School in 2001.

Community Relations Council chairman Peter Osborne said Fr Donegan was a deserved recipient.

"Gary Donegan has had a profound impact in the Ardoyne area and beyond. He is a man of deep integrity who has worked tirelessly in building peace, community relations and better understanding in Ardoyne," he said.

"Gary has never been reluctant to get his hands dirty and has been central in building important and enduring cross community relationships in one of the most testing environments."

Fr Donegan said: "Hope is so much part of faith and I'm thankful that north Belfast has been a place of great change and hope in recent years. I'm honoured to receive this award. It is so important that community leaders work in the nooks and crannies of the streets to help people who are dealing with so many difficult issues related to legacy, economic, social and generational challenges."

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