Northern Ireland news

Deceased Co Tyrone charity worker awarded Presidential Distinguished Service Award

Deceased Co Tyrone charity worker Sally O'Neill, who worked for Trocaire for almost 40 years, has been named as a recipient of Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2019. Picture: Mark Stedman/Trocaire/PA Wire
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Tyrone woman who worked for the charity Trocaire for almost 40 years has been named as a recipient of Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2019, six months after she was killed in Guatemala.

Sally O’Neill, a mother-of-three, who was originally from Dungannon, had been living and working in Honduras when she died in a car crash in April.

Although she had retired from Trócaire in April 2015, she continued to work as a volunteer.

Ms O’Neill joined Trócaire in 1978 and prior to her retirement was the charity’s head of region for Latin America.

She was also involved in providing famine relief in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s and established Trócaire’s programme in famine-hit Somalia in the early 1990s.

She was in Central America when civil wars were being fought in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and oversaw humanitarian aid to more than two million refugees.

She also led delegations of politicians and bishops to the region, translating for Archbishop Oscar Romero six weeks before he was murdered.

It has been announced that Ms O'Neill had been named as a recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad for 2019.

The Award was established by the Irish Government following the 2011 Global Irish Economic Forum as a means to recognise the contribution of members of the Irish diaspora

Caoimhe De Barra, CEO of Trócaire CEO, said it was a "fitting tribute to Sally that she is recognised for the tremendous contribution she has made around the world on behalf of the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland".

The Awards will be presented on November 21 by President Higgins.

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