A LARGE portion of the credit for bringing together the different ethnic groups that have settled in Charleville and helping them to integrate into the local society has to go to the Community Liaison Garda Nick Phelan attached to Charleville Garda Station.
He has regular contact with immigrants from Brazil, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, the Philippines, India and Bulgaria and from some African countries who have made their homes in Charleville town and area.
Along with helping to assimilate them into the community and helping out with various issues affecting every day life, Garda Phelan also assists in including them in local events such as a Christmas party and an annual soccer football tournament, which was played for the first time during the Electric 80's weekend last year.
This year Response Engineering sponsored the event and this meant that all the €1,100 raised this year was presented to local charities, while the 15 teams played for the Garda Community Cup and trophies in the tournament which was run off in the Town Park.
This year's soccer blitz attracted fifteen teams with two of them representing the Brazilian community, while the Slovakian nationals were also well represented as were teams from Charleville, Newtownshandrum, Dromina, Ballyhea and Milford. Garda Phelan had help from Mikey O'Driscoll, Charleville, Dinny O'Mahony, Newtownshandrum and Sean McCormack, Colmanswell and the local soccer club.
The proceeds of the blitz are donated to local charities and Charleville Suicide Aware group last year and Charleville Senior Citizens Association have benefitted as well as community groups in Milford and Ballyhea.
When he is not organising football matches, Garda Phelan is busy liaising with community groups and the fifteen ethnic groups in Charleville and area, local schools, Charleville Suicide group, St. Joseph's Foundation and local estates and Neighbourhood Watch groups, giving talks on traffic and road safety and either arranging or participating in other fund raising events for local groups.