Cill Na Martra keeper James lays hands on prestige Garda award
Trainee James also foiled burglary at Scoil Lachtain Naofa
It may well be a long way to Tipperary but that didn't stop James O'Connell from realizing his ambition of becoming a policeman as he completed a journey which saw him travel all the way from his home in Mid-Cork to Australia before coming home to join An Garda Siochana.
Garda O'Connell, who won the Gary Sheehan Memorial Medal in recognition of his contribution to life at Garda College and his leadership qualities, qualified as a quantity surveyor before moving to Australia where he served as a police officer in the South Australian Police Force.
Returning to Ireland, Garda O'Connell, a native of the Gaeltacht area of Cill na Martra , decided to join An Garda Siochana and while in training on Phase 1 of the BA in Applied Policiing Programme he received a commendation for assisting in the detection of a burglary in Cill na Martra.
A goalkeeper with Cill na Martra who last year won the Cork Intermediate Football title, Garda O'Connell engaged with a burglar who broke into Scoil Lachtain's Primary School until the Gardai arrived and all property stolen from the school was recovered and the offender later convicted.
Garda O'Connell's citation for the Gary Sheehan Memorial Medal, which commemorates Recruit Garda Gary Sheehan who died at Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in December 1983 and is awarded to the best all round student, highlighted his maturity:
'Garda James O'Connell is highly respected and is acknowledged for his courteous, mature and measured approach to any situation throughout the programme. He has consistently displayed all of the positive attributes necessary to become a member of An Garda Siochana.'
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris presented the Gary Sheehan Medal to Garda O'Connell who was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife, Sarah Jane, and was among 128 new recruits who are being sent to the various Dublin divisions, and he will be stationed in Terenure.
Congratulating all 201 probation gardai on Friday last, Mr Harris said they should all be very proud of what they had achieved and he paid tribute to them for dedication and ability which got them through the recruitment process and rigorous training programme.
"But I am sure you would be the first to say that it wasn't a solo effort - it could not have been achieved without the support of all around you - your families, your friends, your classmates and the staff of the college - all there to help and aid you when you needed it," said the commissioner.
Mr Harris said that members of An Garda Siochana show great courage daily in the execution of their duties, not just physical courage but also moral courage and both are equally important for every recruit in doing their duty as a member of An Garda Siochana.
"Doing the right thing means living up to the Code of Ethics which you all signed earlier, it means adhering to the Garda Oath you swore in public in front of us all and it means making tough decisions that might not always be popular but are necessary," he said.
"It means protecting the human rights of everyone we come in contact with regardless of their background or how they view An Garda Siochana - ultimately it means using the substantial powers you have been given for the greater good."