25 Samh 2011, 14.20

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, TD, presented 18 awards in recognition of outstanding acts of bravery at a national ceremony in Farmleigh House today, Friday, November 25th.

The honours were awarded by Comhairle na Mire Gaile – the Deeds of Bravery Council – which was established in 1947 to provide for suitable recognition by the State of deeds of bravery. The Council, which is chaired by the Ceann Comhairle, includes the Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, the Lord Mayor of Cork, the Garda Commissioner, the President of the Association of City & County Councils and the Chairman of the Irish Red Cross.

The Council may award medals in either Gold, Silver or Bronze categories. Certificates of recognition may also be awarded. At the ceremony this afternoon, four of the medals were Silver and nine were Bronze. Five certificates were also awarded. The Council hopes that this high profile ceremony will draw deserved attention to the brave actions of the recipients and heighten awareness of this national awards scheme generally.

Among those who received awards today are:

Silver and Certificate Brendan Greene
Silver and Certificate Patrick Boyle
Silver and Certificate Linda O’Donnell
Silver and Certificate Stephen O’Neill
Bronze and Certificate Padraig Sheahan
Bronze and Certificate Gabriel Plower
Bronze and Certificate Richard Coates
Bronze and Certificate Daniel Ivers
Bronze and Certificate Alimzhan Nabiulin
Bronze and Certificate John Geary
Bronze and Certificate Margaret Purcell
Bronze and Certificate Con Horan
Bronze and Certificate Mark Keogh
Certificate Anthony Donaghy (posthumeously)
Certificate Shane Clarke
Certificate Justin Sherin
Certificate Kevin Mooney
Certificate Eileen Murphy

Congratulating all concerned, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett, TD, said: “These honours are richly deserved and the awards are a fitting tribute and recognise heroic acts by members of the public as well as members of our emergency services, many of whom without regard for their own personal safety, put their lives on the line to help others.

When I read the citations and acts of bravery, I am struck by the selfless heroism, the strength of character, the depths of courage and that willingness to step forward, despite the risks, to help their fellow man. All of these people deserve to be recognised for their actions and are worthy of our deep appreciation.

Their families, friends and neighbours and all of us should be justifiably proud of their achievements and their extraordinary feats of bravery.”

For further information please contact:

Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2

P: +3531 618 3903
M: 086-0496518
F: +3531 618 4551
E: ciaran.brennan@oireachtas.ie

Notes to the editor:

Background to the various honours awarded today:

Stephen O’Neill
In the early hours of 24th December, 2007, Stephen O'Neill witnessed a man jumping into the River Liffey from the Boardwalk on Bachelors Walk.  He saw a man in the river hanging  from the beams under the boardwalk.  Stephen threw a lifebuoy to this person who tried in vain to swim to the buoy.  When the man went under the water for a second time Stephen jumped in and grabbed hold of him.  At this stage this person pulled them both under the water but Stephen managed to place the life ring over the victim.  Meanwhile, another life buoy was thrown to the man and he had also taken hold of this.  Additional help arrived and the person was brought safely from the water and Stephen climbed out from the river.

There is little doubt but that for the swift actions of Stephen O'Neill the incident in question could have resulted in the loss of life.  Stephen put his own life at risk and displayed exceptional courage in the actions he took.

For his efforts:

Stephen O’Neill is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Padraig Sheahan
On Christmas Night 2001 Padraig Sheahan heard a woman screaming for help outside his house.  This woman was being dragged along the road by a male who was in possession of a knife and threatening the woman with the knife.  Neither person was known to Padraig.  Padraig intervened and confronted the attacker while the woman made her escape into Padraig’s house.   The attacker then smashed the front window of Padraig’s house to gain access but was prevented by Padraig.  Padraig managed to subdue the man until the emergency services arrived.  Padraig received cuts to his face and arms and a fractured nose.    
Padraig Sheehan put himself in grave danger by confronting this attacker.  There is no doubt that this incident could have had a more serious outcome.

For his efforts:

Padraig Sheahan is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Brendan Greene, Patrick Boyle and Anthony Donaghy (RIP)
In the early hours of 22nd May, 1995, Anthony Donaghy, now deceased, made a call to the Dungloe Fire Brigade reporting a fire on board the fishing vessel Niamh Aine and that he suspected there was crew onboard.
Dungloe Fire Service arrived on the scene within 11 minutes. At which time the fishing vessel was on fire with flames shooting about 15 feet into the sky.  Entry was impossible from the wheelhouse and galley areas due to the intensity of the flames and smoke.  It was decided that a 2 man Breathing Apparatus team, consisting of Fire Fighters, Brendan Greene and Patrick Boyle, would try to carry out a search of the vessel.  The team’s task was made extremely difficult by the strong wind and thick smoke.  However, after several attempts they entered the last hatch where they found two fishermen.  

By this time Gweedore Fire Brigade had arrived on the scene and they assisted the team by helping to contain the fire and assist with the rescue.  The two-man team were able to drag the first casualty out of the escape hatch onto the shelter deck and then up the final hatch onto the deck at the stern of the fishing vessel.  They then courageously returned and carried out the same procedure on the second casualty.  

Both Brendan Greene and Patrick Boyle without fear for their personal safety put their own lives in danger to rescue the crew of the Niamh Aine.  Due to the quick actions of Anthony Donaghy in raising the alarm the emergency services were able to rescue the crew without any loss of life.

For their efforts:

Brendan Greene is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Patrick Boyle is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Anthony Donaghy RIP is posthumously awarded a Certificate of Bravery which will be presented today to his mother, Mary Donaghy

Sergeant Gabriel Plower and Richard Coates
At 8.30 pm on the 6th July, 2008, a man entered the Avoca River at the Riverwalk, in Arklow, County Wicklow. The river was swollen and fast flowing following three days of heavy rain. Despite this, Richard Coates entered the river and swam to where the individual was.  Richard then brought him to a raised bank where both could stand waist deep in the water. The rescued individual tried to break free from Mr. Coates and return to the water. It was not possible for both men to wade back to shore and the life belt on the riverbank was unable to reach them. At this time, Sergeant Gabriel Plower, Arklow Garda Station, dived into the water and swam out to where the two men were stranded and he brought the victim back to shore.

There is no doubt that but for the swift actions of Richard Coates and Sergeant Plower that this incident may have resulted in the loss of life.

For their efforts:

Sergeant Gabriel Plower is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery

Richard Coates is awarded a Bronze Medal and Certificate of Bravery

Daniel Ivers, Alimzhan Nabiulin and Shane Clarke
On the evening of 8th July, 2009 two boys, Shane Clarke and Benas Vaitkunas, got into difficulties when a raft they were on capsized on Swellen Lake, County Cavan and floated away.  Benas could not swim and started to panic.  Shane grabbed him with one arm and talked to him, but Benas kept struggling.  Meanwhile, Daniel Ivers noticed what had happened and entered the lake.  He swam to the boys and noticed that Shane was unconscious under the water.  Daniel took hold of Shane and brought him to the waters edge.  Alimzhan Nabiulin, who lived nearby ran towards the lake.  He saw Daniel bringing Shane onto the side of the lake.  He then saw Benas in the lake and entered the water.  Upon reaching Benas he realised that he was also unconscious and brought him to the lake’s edge.  He handed Benas to two other men who were passing by, as Benas was starting to regain consciousness.  Alimzhan went and assisted Daniel in administering CPR to Shane.  The two boys were then brought to hospital where they recovered.  

There is no doubt that Shane Clarke, Daniel Ivers and Alimzhan Nabiulin displayed considerable courage in the actions they took.  Each individual in their own way contributed to the saving of the lives of two young men.

For their efforts:

Daniel Ivers is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Alimzhan Nabiulin is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Shane Clarke is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Justin Sheerin
On the 2nd August, 2010 Justin Sheerin entered the River Shannon at Honan’s Quay, Limerick  to rescue a friend who was in difficulties.  Justin was able to hold on to his friend until help arrived.  At the time the river was at high tide, fast flowing and the currents were very strong.

There is no doubt but for the swift actions of Justin this incident may have resulted in the loss of a life.  Justin displayed exceptional courage and put his own life at risk by jumping into the river and pulling his friend to safety.

For his efforts:

Justin Sheerin is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Garda Kevin Mooney and Garda Eileen Murphy
On Friday, 2nd April 2010, Garda Eileen Murphy and Garda Kevin Mooney were on duty in Mullingar when they were informed by a colleague from Mullingar Garda Station that a call was received from a person in a distressed state on the Dublin Bridge.

When they arrived there they were unable to locate the individual.  So they searched the area and eventually found a man on his back in the canal.   A struggle ensued and with assistance Garda Mooney and Garda Murphy managed to bring the victim to the bank of the canal.  

Garda Kevin Mooney and Garda Eileen Murphy displayed exceptional courage in entering the water to save this person.

For their efforts:

Garda Kevin Mooney is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

Garda Eileen Murphy is awarded a Certificate of Bravery

John Geary
On 8th March 2009 a car ferry was crossing between Passage West and Carrigloe on the River Lee.  As it approached Carrigloe Terminal the first car on the ferry suddenly drove forward on to the ramp and drove into the river.  There were two men in the car.  

At this time John Geary was sitting in the kitchen of his home when he observed through a window a commotion on the river.   He suspected there was someone in the water.  Without regard for his own safety, he rushed out and launched a small dinghy.  He noticed someone in difficulties in the water and rowed over to him.  When John reached the man, he could see that he was in a state of panic.  He calmed the man down, manoeuvred him to the stern of the dingy and persuaded him to hang on while he rowed the boat ashore to where the emergency services took command of the situation.  John then went back out to search for the second man who was still in the water.  Unfortunately, despite an extensive search carried out by Navy, RNLI and fishing boats in the area this second person was never found.
Mr. Geary displayed exceptional courage and quick thinking when he rushed into the water to rescue the occupants of the car.  Unfortunately all efforts to save the second occupant of the car failed but if not for Mr. Geary’s quick actions there may have been a second fatality.

For his efforts:

John Geary is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery

Garda Linda O’Donnell
On 17th July, 2002 Garda Linda O’Donnell, who was off-duty at the time, was walking with her family at Ashe Quay, Fermoy, County Cork.  She was approached by a man and woman who informed her that a woman had jumped into the river.  

Garda O’Donnell climbed over the river wall, swam out to the woman and brought her to safety with the help of her husband.

But for the efforts of Garda O’Donnell there is little doubt that this incident could have resulted in a far more serious way.

For her efforts:

Garda Linda O’Donnell is awarded a Silver Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Garda Margaret Purcell
On St. Patrick’s Day 2003, Garda Margaret Purcell responded to an emergency call where a woman had entered the water at Cappa Pier, Kilrush, County Clare.  On arrival at the scene, and without due regard for her own safety, Garda Purcell entered the water and found a woman lying face down.  With the assistance of a member of the public Garda Purcell was able to bring this woman to safety and she later made a full recovery in hospital.

The selfless efforts of Garda Purcell led in no small way to the saving of this person’s life.

For her efforts:

Garda Margaret Purcell is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Con Horan
On the 21st November 2004, former Garda Sergeant Con Horan and three Garda colleagues responded to a report that a young man had entered the River Shannon at Clancy Strand, Limerick.  When the young man was located at the scene one of the Gardaí threw a life buoy to him but he was unresponsive.  Despite strong currents on the river Con Horan swam out to the young man and with the assistance of his colleague brought the young man to safety at the rivers edge.  Former Sergeant Horan administered CPR and First Aid to the man who after treatment later made a full recovery in hospital.

There is little doubt but for the brave actions of Con Horan this young man could have died.  Mr. Horan is honoured here today.  His former colleagues have previously received their awards

For his efforts:

Con Horan is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.

Mark Keogh
On the 7th August 2004, the Gardaí responded to an emergency call where a woman had entered the water at Doorly Park, Sligo.

The condition of the water at the time was dark and its depth was not discernible however the woman’s body could be seen in the water.  Detective Garda Cullen entered nonetheless and managed to retrieve the woman.  By this time, Garda Mark Keogh and Garda Dermot O’Connell arrived at the scene and both entered the water to assist in the rescue.  The lady was safely brought to shore and was treated in hospital where she made a full recovery.

Mark Keogh, a former member of An Garda Síochána, is honoured today for his role in this rescue.  His former colleagues have previously received their awards.

For his efforts:

Mark Keogh is awarded a Bronze Medal and a Certificate of Bravery.