Saturday 20 July 2019

'I was devastated by what was going on' - Garda sergeant given award for charity work

Garda Sergeant Ann Byrne
Garda Sergeant Ann Byrne

Cathal McMahon

When a devastating earthquake struck the island of Haiti in 2010 most Irish people followed the shocking reports closely in the news, some even donated to the charities working in the area.

But one garda sergeant decided that she would no longer sit idly by.

Anne Byrne, who is based in Clogherhead station in Co Louth, took it upon herself to travel to the disaster zone where she joined with the charity Haven to help build homes for those affected by the earthquake.

“I was devastated by what was going on, I was watching it on television and I just had to go,” she said.

Since then Sgt Byrne has made repeat visits to Haiti with Haven and another charity Haiti Orphanage Project Espwa (HOPE).

Living in tents in remote villages the volunteers provided vital infrastructure to the area.

Recently she has started travelling to Kenya with charity 'Friends From Ireland' where, in the remote region of Ganala, she has helped to build three schools.

Her selfless volunteer efforts were marked last night when she was presented with the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) Excellence award in Killarney, Co Kerry.

AGSI General Secretary John Jacob presented Sgt Byrne with the prestigious accolade and commended her for her selfless humanitarian work.

Sgt Byrne said she has never looked back after taking the decision to travel to Haiti in 2010.

She went on to encourage other members present to volunteer abroad.

“For what it would cost a family to go on a cruise in the Mediterranean you can go for a couple of weeks to one of these regions and volunteer.

“What we are doing in this region is sustainable development. We are providing education which, years down the line, can lead to proper growth in the region.”

Sgt Byrne said she now intends to travel back to Kenya in the autumn where she and other volunteers aim to build a secondary school.

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