Kerry-born Sr Consilio Fitzgerald founded the Cuan Mhuire residential centre for addictions in Newry in 1984. There are now facilities nationwide, including in Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin.
Sr Consilio said the award was a welcome recognition of the hard work of many individuals from right across the entire community.
“People from the north of Ireland helped us build the Cuan Mhuire mission and believed in the ability of our work to change peoples’ lives. They came to us for help, and reciprocated the support they were given by being enormously generous in their practical support for our work, and they continue to be so to the present day.”
Sr Consilio paid tribute to civic and political representatives, as well as Church leaders, community organisations and other voluntary groups, for their support.
She said the award reflected the “very deep understanding” on the part of the North’s Executive and Assembly of the value and wholly inclusive nature of the work of Cuan Mhuire.
Sr Consilio also thanked prayers from all denominations. “I have always been especially conscious of the value of the prayers of the mothers whose children, husbands and friends have come to us for help. I’d never have survived and we would never be where we are today, without the help of Our Blessed Lady, Cuan Mhuire’s best friend.”
Cuan Mhuire provides a residential programme, and a range of other support services, for individuals and families impacted by addictions and their consequences including homelessness.