Popular Enniscorthy-based doctor is the first non-Irish citizen in Co Wexford to take on the role
ONE of the most well-known and highly respected doctors in County Wexford has created history by becoming the first non-Irish citizen to be appointed as a Peace Commissioner in the county.
Dr George Leslie received confirmation of his appointment in a letter from Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee. Speaking to the Enniscorthy Guardian, he said it’s a privilege and “great honour” for him personally.
"It’s a really huge honour for me and also for my family,” said Dr George.
Firmly established within the community in Enniscorthy where he works out of the Slaney Medical Centre, he has a great love of Ireland, its history and culture and that’s something that stems from when he spent time living with a host here in 1998 who explained a lot about Irish culture and heritage to him.
Passionate and sincere about serving his community, Dr George's interest in becoming a peace commissioner, which is an honorary unpaid post, stems from his love of community and a desire to give as much as he can back to the people who have made him feel welcome over the last two decades.
"I enjoy every moment of my life in Ireland and the beautiful sweetness of your democracy,” said Dr George.
"We were in the Middle East for 20 years and I always used to come to Ireland with my family for holidays," he said.
“When I was living here in 1998, I was living with an Irish host and he was a fatherly figure,” he added.
"He explained to me the rich culture of this country and the struggles the people went through.”
However, it was also the manner with which the man explained things to Dr George that had a lasting impression on him: “He explained things in a very calm manner and not to make friction with anybody but at the same time he used to say we should forgive but not forget.”
"I learned many things from this country, medically and societal-wise,” he said.
"I met many good people everywhere around the world but here in particular.”
Dr George said he values the appointment of peace commissioner because it enables him to contribute even more to his community outside of his role as a GP.
"More than a medical doctor I can now do something for people in the community,” he said. He said being a peace commissioner will assist him in organising initiatives for young people, especially with regard to drug or alcohol awareness events.
"That will be an added advantage,” he added, while emphasising that he hopes it will enable him to do more community work outside of his existing medical role.
He is very proud of the fact that he is the first Indian passport holder to be appointed to the position in County Wexford.
"I think this will be a positive appreciation of my work, my presence and my dreams,” he said.
The significance of his appointment cannot be overstated in terms of the reaction it will have in India and also with the Indian ambassador’s office here in Ireland.
"It’s a huge honour for me and I appreciate the prestigious position that it is,” he said.
Minister James Browne also welcomed the appointment and highlighted the very high regard in which Dr George is held within the community.
While it’s unconfirmed, there is also a strong belief that Dr George is the first non-Irish citizen to be appointed as a peace commissioner anywhere in the country.
Minister Browne said that when he put in the request to the department initially he was told there is no record of anyone who was not an Irish citizen being appointed before.
He said that to the best of the department's knowledge, Dr George is the first non-Irish citizen to be appointed to the position.
Minister Browne acknowledged Dr George’s “huge presence" within the community in Enniscorthy through his work as a doctor.
He is also very well known around the county through his work with Caredoc and through his interest in filmmaking and, in particular, creating films relating to Irish culture and heritage.
"I think it's absolutely wonderful for him and for Enniscorthy and it’s a very positive thing," said Minister Browne.
"I know it means a lot to him to take on the role and in so doing be able to provide an additional service to his community,” he added.
"He is very much part of his own diaspora but also services the Irish community as well. I think its wonderful.”
Dr George, who lived in Enniscorthy, is married to Laija Maria and they have two sons, Aby Thomas Leslie, who is a Project Manager in Cleveland, Ohio, and Abel Paul Leslie, who is a final year medical student in India.