Campaigner for the homeless Fr Peter Mc Verry has received an award for his lifelong contributions to society.
“I often feel a bit of a fraud when getting prizes because I’m only one person in a big organisation which works really hard for the homeless. But I’m delighted to receive the award because again it highlights the issue of homelessness. By highlighting the issue it also says to homeless people that they are important,” Fr Mc Verry said.
The France Ireland Human Rights Prize was awarded to the Belfast-born man by French ambassador to Ireland Jean-Pierre Thebault.
French Ambassador Thebault said: “This prize is dedicated to people who make a difference by their actions and their commitment to their work and it’s absolutely the case of Fr McVerry.” He added: “Especially now that we are in the summer people don’t thin k about the homeless, so it’s good to bring the issue into the spotlight.”
The Peter McVerry Trust was also presented with a ‘key’ by Saint Gobain to symbolise the opening of new building jointly renovated by the organisations, which was primarily funded through a €100,000 donation the construction firm.
The charity is using the money to refurbish six homes on Pim Street, Dublin, where homeless families will be given permanent accommodation. The residents also had a helping hand in restoring their living spaces as Saint Gobain helped them in learning construction skills so that they have a trade skill to earn a living from.
The award is the second major award in as many years for the Belfast man, the first being the Freedom of Dublin City two years ago.
Ceremony proceedings took place in the French Embassy, Aylesbury Road, and saw members of the French community in Ireland gather to celebrate the winner’s triumph.