Trócaire’s Sally O’Neill receives Monsignor O’Flaherty Award

09 Nov 2011

Trócaire’s Sally O’Neill receives the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award

•           During World War II the needy in Rome had Monsignor O’Flaherty and the Rome Escape Line to stand by them – Sally O’Neill

In the memory of one risk taker, Killarney native Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, another risk taker, Trócaire’s Regional Director for Latin America, Sally O’Neill, has been presented with the Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award in recognition of her remarkable career combining extraordinary energy with courage, commitment and compassion.

Throughout Sally’s career she has worked tirelessly tackling poverty and inequality in third world countries throughout the world, including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, together with his colleagues in the Rome Escape Line, saved over 6,500 lives during World War II, despite constant risk of discovery by the Nazi regime in Italy.  Monsignor O’Flaherty is remembered through the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Committee which was formed to raise awareness for the work of the Monsignor as well as fundraise for a permanent memorial to the Monsignor in his home town of Killarney.

The award was presented to Ms Sally O’Neill on 5 November last at a ceremony in the Killarney Plaza Hotel, Co Kerry.   The event was attended by members of the O’Flaherty family, some old friends of the Monsignor, members of Killarney Town Council, the Bishop of Kerry Dr Bill Murphy, as well as other members of various religious orders.

Speaking at the ceremony Sally’s colleague, Director of Trócaire Justin Kilcullen, stated “The people of Killarney have made a great choice in selecting Sally for this honour.  Courage and compassion is a very powerful combination and Sally has displayed these attributes throughout her 35 years working with Trócaire in the pursuit of justice throughout the developing world.”

In her acceptance speech Sally commenced by thanking the people of Killarney, the Monsignor’s family and the Memorial Committee for bestowing the honour on her.  Sally went on to state that “I first became aware of Monsignor O’Flaherty when Sharon Commins, the Goal aid worker, received this award in 2009.  At the time I was working in Haiti and I discovered that the Monsignor’s Humanitarian Work wasn’t limited to Rome.  Even before World War II the Monsignor was awarded a joint award by Haiti and the Dominican Republic for his work with famine relief in the area.”

Sally also spoke of the similarities between Trócaire’s work and the Monsignor’s work during World War II.  Sally O’Neill said “Time and time again, we see the generosity of the Irish people shining through.  These people who fill their Trócaire boxes each year are helping us keep going with our work.  In World War II, the needy in Rome had the Monsignor and the Rome Escape Line to stand by them, as we now do throughout the developing world.”


Notes for Editors

•           Bishop John Kirby, Bishop of Clonfert is Chairman of Trócaire.   Trócaire is the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.   Trócaire was established in 1973 by the bishops of Ireland to express the tangible concern of the Irish Catholic Church for the suffering of the world’s poorest people.

•           For a picture of Sally O’Neill with her Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty International Humanitarian Award medal please contact the Catholic Communications Office 00 353 1 505 3010 or the Trócaire Press Office 00 353 (1) 629 3333.