Presentation Ceremony, Dublin Castle

Call for statutory and voluntary agencies to avoid becoming part of the problem of exclusion the way they work
Alice Leahy

TRUST National Essay Competition On Theme of THE OUTSIDER proves major success Minister for Justice presents prizes in Dublin Castle.

The Minister for Justice John O’Donoghue T.D. today (TUESDAY, May 15th, 2001) presented the top prize in the TRUST National Essay Competition to Niamh Fitzgerald a student at Loreto College, St Stephen¹s Green, Dublin. Niamh received a laptop computer and £100 in book tokens. The other four national winners were Eithne Byrne (Gorey Community School, Co. Wexford); Hugh Forde (Gormanstown College, Co. Meath); Sinead Hickey (Our Lady¹s Grove S.S., Goatstown Road, Dublin) and Aisling Ni Chathasaigh (Gael Colaiste Chiarrai, Tralee, Co. Kerry) and each received a mini disc player and £100 in book tokens.

The TRUST NATIONAL Essay Competition was co-sponsored by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and THE IRISH TIMES with the support of the Rotary Club of Dublin and was undertaken as part of the TRUST Transition Year Project. The competition was aimed at Transition Year students and was undertaken as part of a special initiative by TRUST to promote greater understanding of the needs of the outsiders in Irish society and how we might make this community more inclusive and responsive to the needs of those who do not fit in.

Alice Leahy, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST speaking at the Presentation Ceremony said:

“Those of us working with “the outsiders” in Irish society have to examine the way we work to ensure we are not becoming part of the problem instead of helping to meet the needs of people who are homeless and others who do not fit in. We must remember people have a right to be different. The government is to be congratulated on spending more money. However, funding for statutory and voluntary agencies is increasingly linked to how successful they are at changing people to fit into society’s model of success. This process can exclude people. The reason many people become homeless or are marginalized in our society is because they cannot fit in or do not have the social, educational or psychological resources that would allow them to conform to society’s perception of what it means to be “successful” or even “normal”!.

“As more and more resources are deployed and results are assessed against “performance indicators” greater numbers of people could be excluded and agencies doing the hands on work, accepting people for what they are and that they cannot change over night are at risk of being perceived as not successful. We may already be headed down that road in some cases without even being aware of it, and this is why we are calling for a debate before it is too late!”

Poet Micheal O’Siadhail and Chairman of the Board of Adjudicators formally announced the winners at the Presentation Ceremony and said:

“If the measure of our boom is not how we care for outsiders, we will be remembered as beggars on horseback.”

Speaking at the Presentation Ceremony after he presented the prizes the Minister for Justice John O’Donoghue T.D. said:

“As I stated at the launch last September I am very pleased to be associated with the excellent work of the TRUST organisation. For more than 25 years TRUST has been providing social and health services for homeless people. Such people in need receive care and attention on a daily basis from ALICE LEAHY and her team at the TRUST premises in Bride Road in Dublin.”

Alice Leahy also thanked the Minister for Justice and the sponsors for their support. She also invited both students and teachers to come up with suggestions and ideas about how TRUST’s educational commitment could be further developed:

“We are a very small agency and think it is vital if we are to create a more caring and inclusive society that we help to make as many people as possible aware of the needs of “the outsiders” in our midst.”

TRUST Transition Year Project

The National Essay project was undertaken as part of the TRUST Transition Year Project which was created in response to the reaction, especially from students and teachers, to the television documentary A FRAGILE CITY produced by Esperanza Productions about TRUST and the people it works with. A web site was also launched as part of this initiative – – and full details and background on the project can be found there!


A very distinguished and representative panel of people generously gave of their time to select the winners.

  • Micheal O’Siadhail, Chairman of the Board of Adjudicators and one of Ireland’s leading poets and author of the poem OUTSIDER
  • Sylda Langford – Assistant Secretary, Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform.
  • Padraig O’Morain -Award winning journalist with The Irish Times.
  • Catherine Clancy – Chief Superintendent Community Relations, Garda Siochana.
  • John Quinn – RTE Radio 1 – Award winning radio producer and broadcaster on education issues.
  • Mary Freehill, City Councillor, former Lord Mayor of Dublin and Comhairle Area Co-ordinator.
  • Caitlin Ui Fheargail, Retired Secondary School Teacher and former Head of the Irish Department at the Holy Faith Convent, Clontarf.
  • Rory Guinness – Businessman who is also involved in environment and social projects including the Iveagh Trust.
  • Gerry Jeffers Lecturer in Education, NUI Maynooth and Former National Co-ordinator, Transition Year Curriculum Support Service, Dept. of Education.
  • Alice Leahy, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST
  • Anne Daly, Award winning filmmaker, Co-founder of Esperanza Productions and co-producer of A FRAGILE CITY.
  • Tony O’Gorman, Schools Inspector with the Department of Education and Chairman of Moyross Probation Project, Limerick.