Award for St Michael's worker

Article Posted: Friday 25th December, 2009

Rita Fagan, Co-ordinator St Michaels Family Resource Centre, Inchicore has been announced as one of the recipients of the inaugural John O'Connell Awards 2009.

The awards, which are made by the Department of Applied Social Studies at NUI Maynooth, recognise outstanding commitment/ contribution by students, past students and partners to youth work and/or community work as ways of working for a just, equal and inclusive society.

They are named in honour of John O'Connell, teacher, organiser and advocate for the marginalized in Ireland and globally, a decade after his untimely death in 1999.

The significant and outstanding contribution to community work and communities of Rita Fagan, past student of the Department, was also recognised.

She went to St Michael's Estate Inchicore as a student on placement and has worked there ever since as an inspiring and courageous leader through important work on domestic violence and ground breaking re-generation campaigns often using innovative and creative ways to make her case.

"Rita acts locally but thinks globally and has for many years visited, worked and contributed to global activity with struggles in other parts of the world," said NUIM.

Speaking before the ceremony, Anastasia Crickley, head of the Department stressed the importance of locally based and managed community and youth projects such as those Rita is involved with for supporting young people and communities in these very difficult times.

"Community projects where people made their own decisions and managed their own programmes and projects were key in creating conditions for moving out of the 1980s recession through ensuring targeted social inclusion and community development in favour of the marginalised. General development with removed decision making favour the better off."

Ms Crickley said that current plans of the Department of Rural Community and Gaeltacht Affairs to remove autonomy and power from local projects and water down targeted community development cannot achieve their stated outcomes. "I urge that time be taken to ensure that the changes being made in these challenging times are constructive and forward looking with real decision making power left local for building our future Ireland," she said.