CORK’S most dangerous criminals didn’t stand a chance this week following the appointment of an honourary Garda.
John Martin Bernard, who has Down Syndrome, fulfilled his ambition of joining the force for a day at Anglesea Street.
The Christmas gift of a lifetime came courtesy of kind-hearted Sgt Peter Murphy, who put in days of preparation for John Martin’s visit. His kind gesture was carried out in conjunction with the Evening Echo’s Christmas wish list which helps deserving kids pursue their ultimate dream.
The 16-year-old from Riverstick began the day with a spin in the Garda patrol jeep before enjoying an exclusive behind the scenes tour of Anglesea Street’s control room.
Here, Sgt Murphy gave an insight into some of the centre’s state-of-the-art equipment, including a video surveillance system offering a window into various parts of Cork city.
“Most of the work we do is very serious and requires our full commitment,” Sgt Peter Murphy said.
“We’re a working headquarters so this is not something we get the chance to do frequently. However, we are always happy to welcome visitors with any kind of challenges in life.
“It is always a pleasure to meet with young people like John Martin who are both excited and engaging. While little things, like showing someone the station’s equipment is a small deal for us, it can be a bid deal for someone else.”
His praised the dedication of his team when it comes to helping others.
“The gardaí here are always very generous with their time and are particularly skilled and patient when dealing with young people who might have communication issues.
“We don’t focus on disability here. Being an honourary Garda is about honing in on one’s strength and ability.”
John Martin’s mother Anna praised the gardaí for making her son’s dream a reality.
“John has been interested in the Garda since he was a small child,” she said.
“The last time we came across gardaí was when we were having breakfast in a café before school. John was insisting he wanted to be at a table near them. That’s how much admiration he has for An Garda Síochána.”
She listed the highlights of John Martin’s big day.
“His favourite parts were probably being shown the handcuffs and the motorbike. He was also fascinated by the cameras and loved the fact you could see anywhere in Cork city from a single room.”
She emphasised her gratitude to the team at Anglesea Street, particularly to Sgt Murphy.
“Everyone has been so kind to John Martin. He can’t wait to tell his friends at school all about the experience.”
John Martin was nominated for the experience by his friends at Down Syndrome Cork.
The charity operates under the umbrella of Down Syndrome Ireland and provides services and resources to more than 360 families across the city and county.
For more information on the organisation visit http://downsyndromecork.ie/