SGT JIM FOLEY was honoured for his work with the Tralee International Resource Centre (TIRC) at a special celebration on Wednesday.
The Town Council, volunteer Ann McKenzie and the late Gerry Moran were also honoured at the centre.
The Sergeant has been involved with TIRC since its inception in 2008.
“TIRC worked for us and we worked for TIRC, the centre allowed us a means of communication between us and the community,” Sgt Foley said.
“The communities we meet can have a different view of what a police force does, if you’re a resident of Central Africa what the police do there is different to what we do there.”
“I am not saying the Garda here are perfect, but we are open and transparent and willing to work with new communities. Sometimes people don’t see a police force as that so you’ve got to address that barrier straight away,” he said.
One of the highlights of the Sergeant’s work was the organisation of soccer blitzes for adults and underage asylum seekers and immigrants.
“It is so important for the new communities to be aware that they have a police force here to support their needs, the only way you can deliver that message is through engagement,” he said.
Sgt Foley will be moving on from his current post as Sergeant in charge of Community Policing in Tralee to a new role as Crime Prevention officer for the county.
The TIRC marked, in particular, the contribution of Tralee Town Council as they end their current structure and merge with Kerry County Council. “We are truly grateful to Tralee Town Council for their ongoing support,” said Chairperson of TIRC Cllr Gillian Wharton Slattery.
“They have supported us with a premises and are helpful to us in all our ventures. It has been a wonderful link and we hope to continue in the new structures of local Government.”
As it was National Volunteer Week, TIRC also honoured Ann McKenzie for her work as teacher of English in the centre along with other volunteers.
“Anne has been a core volunteer of TIRC and has helped so many people from so many backgrounds integrate into the local community by improving their English skills, and as well as that she befriended and supported so many of them with her kindness,” said Cllr Gillian Wharton Slattery.
Former volunteer Gerry Moran’s memory was also honored with the planting of a tree on the grounds of the centre.
“Gerry was a wonderful friend and volunteer and he and his wife Catherine and James and Sarah were part of the TIRC family. Gerry gave so much to TIRC in his time here and was always offering to help in anyway,” said Cllr Wharton Slattery.