THE Clare Association Dublin has saluted Mary Fitzgerald, Maghera, Inagh for her outstanding work and pioneering contribution over many years in helping to address issues surrounding domestic violence and abuse.
They named her their 2020 Hall of Fame winner and presented her with her award at their annual award function in the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon recently.
Tom Conway, chairman of the Clare Association Dublin and also a native of the Inagh area, presented the award and in doing so said that in the early 1990s Mary Fitzgerald first became aware of the plight of women and children fleeing from domestic violence while working at Ennis Garda Station.
Indeed a garda station at that time was often the only available safe haven for victims of domestic violence.
Mary had previously worked in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity and also in a Romanian Orphanage.
She was named as Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year in 2018. Her work in this area at times involved taking vulnerable and often frightened people into her own home.
The chairman said by 1993 Mary had founded Clare Haven services with help from other like- minded, dedicated people.
She also established Haven Horizons, a national charity that works to break the cycle of domestic violence abuse through international best practice and evidence based prevention models. She was also the recipient of a Community Hero award at the Mansion house in Dublin in 2018.
It was fitting Mary was winner of the Clare Association Dublin Hall of Fame award for 2020.
Mary thanked the Clare Association Dublin for shining a light into the dark spaces where domestic violence thrives. She dedicated the award to those who have been murdered since 1996-251 women and 20 children.
“To quote Bishop Desmond Tutu there comes a point where we need to do more than taking people from the river. We need to go upstream and find out what is the cause,” she said.
“Haven Horizons was set up to address prevention. Domestic violence is a patterned crime and we need to focus on solutions and therein lies an opportunity for change.
“Haven Horizons is capably managed by Madeline McAleer and alongside Katarina Tarinova and they and the board were providing courses, working with gardai and frontline workers.
“Home is still the most dangerous place for women and children. It really prove to us all that together we can change anything.”
She also paid tribute to her mother Kathleen whom she said was a source of encouragement and inspiration to her.
It was the start of a journey of discovery when Clare Haven Services was born and their frontline services and outreach work were steered by a tremendous staff led by Ciaran Lynch as board chairman.
She thanked the people of Clare who set up Clare Haven Services and continued to support them. Clare people were unique and she was proud to be from the county. She also received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the attendance.