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Tony Geoghegan, co-founder of Merchants Quay Ireland, received the Irish Red Cross award

A homeless and drug addict advocate has been awarded the Irish Red Cross (IRC) Lifetime Achievement Award 2024. Co-Founder

Tony Geoghegan was chosen because of “his foresight in co-founding Merchants Quay Ireland in 1989 and his many subsequent years dedicated to working with the homeless and people who had serious problems with drug use,” the Irish Red said Cross in a statement.

“He has continually highlighted the growing problems of drug use, the lack of addiction centers and treatment and homelessness in Ireland,” the statement said. Mr Geoghegan has worked in a range of treatment settings, “from crisis interventions including needle exchanges to everyday counseling services to residential drug-free therapeutic communities and aftercare, prison counseling and resettlement programs.”

Mr Geoghegan is an Accredited Addiction Counselor and Clinical Supervisor and former Chair of the Addiction Counselors of Ireland.

He founded the Merchants Quay Project in 1989 with Father Sean Cassin. In 2001 it became Merchants Quay Ireland and now employs more than 200 people providing services throughout Ireland.

Accepting the award, Mr Geoghegan said he was “very surprised and very honoured”.

“Receiving an award for something you feel passionate about is a bit surreal. Not everyone gets the opportunity to work in a job that is a good fit for who they are and what they want to contribute. So I feel very fortunate to have worked in the areas of drug addiction and homelessness,” he said.

“However, it has not been without frustrations and challenges. It was also rewarding to be given the opportunity to influence positive policy change and have a platform to advocate for fair and appropriate services for people who are disadvantaged and vulnerable.”

It was “beyond frustrating” to see homeless people in tents on the streets and increasing numbers of homeless children and families, Mr Geoghegan said. There is “still a lot to achieve” in the area of ​​drug addiction, he added.

“We need compassion, tolerance, passion, courageous risk-taking and ambition from our policymakers and elected representatives. A unified and consolidated effort is needed to address some of the systemic failures that affect people experiencing drug addiction and homelessness,” he said.

Mr Geoghegan’s work with some of society’s most vulnerable people is “very inspiring and should serve as an example to all where we must help anyone who finds themselves in challenging situations through no fault of their own,” IRC Secretary General Deirdre Garvey said .

The annual IRC Humanitarian Awards honor shortlisted finalists in five categories in addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Pat Carey, chairman of the IRC, said it was “important that we acknowledge and recognize the crucial work of humanitarian workers and their ongoing contribution to Irish society, which sets a strong example for us all.”

“The Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards aim to recognize these people and organizations and highlight the great work they do.”

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