More than 100 young people who have made positive contributions to their communities have been honoured at a special ceremony in Co Laois.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon presented 22 individual and group awards to young people aged between 13 and 21 from across the country, as part of the first Garda National Youth Awards. 

People who have overcome difficult personal circumstances, such as Ian O'Connell from Killarney in Co Kerry, were among those honoured.

The 17-year-old was left paralysed from the neck down after a cycling accident in August 2017.

Ian now offers online support to others affected by similar issues, and has more than 40,000 followers on Instagram.

He is also back in school studying for his Leaving Certificate.


Speaking at the ceremony in Portlaoise, Mr Flanagan said: "To be recognised as someone who has made their community a better or safer place to live, or as someone who has defied the odds in overcoming difficult circumstances, is really special".

The minister said the award winners represent Ireland's "best and brightest". 

"What really struck me was the selflessness of each of the young people.

"Their willingness to put others ahead of themselves is outstanding and I believe much can be learned from their dedication," he added.