Better Together 2015: The Winners

Carmel McDonnell Byrne, a Dublin woman who has spent the past 15 years supporting victims of institutional abuse, has been named Ireland's Charity Hero at the 2015 Better Together Awards in Dublin Castle. The national prize honours individuals who have, over their lifetime, made an extraordinary contribution to their communities.

Carmel was one of 10 people from across Ireland nominated for the annual award Carmel Mcdonnel Byrnepresented by The Wheel, the national representative body for charities, supported by Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions.
Carmel co-founded the Aislinn Education and Support Centre with Christine Buckley in 1999 to provide much-needed support to the survivors of institutional abuse. At that time Carmel was working full-time, but despite work and family commitments, she has over the past 15 years volunteered much of her time to help survivors of abuse. Carmel has lobbied on the rights of survivors and she has individually worked with survivors to help them apply for redress. In this regard she has acted as a representative for all survivors highlighting the obstacles involved in accessing support services. Despite ill-health she continues to look after all the administrative tasks at the centre.

The Charity Hero Award is part of Better Together, a nationwide campaign that aims to make Ireland a better place to live by building support for charities, clubs and associations across the country.

Better Together Charity Video Competition: 2015 Winners

The winners of the Better Together Charity Video Competition was also announced at the awards. One-hundred and ninety-eight charities, clubs and associations from across Ireland entered short videos on to highlight the impact of their work. The public voted for their favourite videos between September and December. One-hundred and eighty-one thousand votes were counted and the 35 most popular videos were subsequently shortlisted.

The winners of 2015 the video competition are:

Large Charities: Donegal Centre for Independent Living 

Mid-sized Charities: Localise Youth and Community Service

Volunteer-only Charities: The Exchange Inishowen

The Young Filmmaker Award: Naomi Keays (Girl Guides)

Commenting on the announcement of the winners, Deirdre Garvey, Chief Executive of The Wheel said: “These awards showcase what we can achieve when people work together for the common good. The Better Together Campaign aims to inspire people to become active citizens. It can be as simple as volunteering with a local charity or club, joining a resident’s association, or taking part in elections and decision-making processes. Being an active citizen simply means being active in your community and taking an interest in the decisions that shape our lives.”

Dr Jacob A. Gayle, Vice-President of Medtronic Philanthropy: “The Better Together awards is the culmination of a nationwide drive that seeks to make Ireland a better place to live by building support for charities, clubs and community associations, as well as the people they serve. Medtronic is proud to support the awards, and to partner with The Wheel in helping to create the conditions for a thriving voluntary sector in Ireland. This evening’s awards celebrate the work of community and voluntary groups. As part of the campaign we were delighted to be able to host events for the non-profit community at our campuses in Galway, Athlone, Tullamore and Dublin and I know our employees were very impressed with the work going on in the communities. I congratulate everyone at the awards today and everyone working in the sector to improve the resources available in communities across this country.”

The support by Medtronic for the Better Together Campaign follows the launch earlier this year by the company of a €1 million national health initiative to support Irish organisations with innovative ideas on how to remove barriers to healthcare in under-served Irish communities.