Ireland’s first ever children’s garda station was officially opened today by the head of the force, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.
The garda head was on hand to commission ten young new recruits at Dreamland, an all-inclusive play centre for children of all abilities, run by the Share A Dream Foundation.
Mr Harris presented medals and certificates of bravery to the children who have battled serious illness before officially welcoming them “to the force”.
Share A Dream founder, Shay Kinsella, who has helped fulfill the dreams of thousands of terminally ill and vulnerable children, was also presented with a special merit award.
Mr Harris said he was “amazed” by Dreamland which he said felt “like walking into Disneyland”.
The centre has appealed for funds after losing thousands of euro in cash in two recent break-ins, and Commissioner Harris appealed to the public for information about the raiders.
After receiving her medal and certificate for bravery, Garda Arwen Maher (9), who was diagnosed with Aspergers, quipped:
Arwen’s mother Olivia, said: “It’s a special moment and it means so much to her. This is a dream come true for her. Arwen is doing great. She is battling a world that really isn’t deigned for her, but she is doing it very bravely, and we have a great support team.”
Garda Chloe O’Brien (6), from Co Limerick, who has fought back from the brink after a premature birth, was beaming in her new uniform: “I’m so happy to be here. I don’t know if I could trick or treat (in the uniform), I’ll have to go as a garda tonight, and arrest and put people in jail.”
Her father JJ said: “Chloe was born at 25 weeks and three days, she was 1 lb, 3 oz. She had three bleeds on the brain, chronic lung disease, a small hole in her heart. She now has an enlarged spleen due to an IV line that was put in to keep her alive at the start of her life.”
“She also had sepsis. It was a hard battle and we had a number of very close calls, and thank god she is flying now.”
Garda Shaye Collins (3) from Co Clare, threw his garda cap into the air after his graduation into the force.
His mother Veronica said: “Shay was born at 30 weeks with a rare blood disease and we were told he wasn’t going to make it, but thank god, he had other ideas and he’s flying it.”
To donate to Share A Dream visit www.shareadream.ie