From the Irish News........
Hero Cop Set for Ireland
May 7, 2008
By April Drew
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, who was paralyzed in 1986 after being shot while on duty, his wife Patti Ann McDonald, mayor of her hometown, Malverne in Long Island, and their 21-year-old son Conor, will travel to Ireland next week to mark the 10 year anniversary of Project Reconciliation – Northern Ireland.
The McDonald family, accompanied by a small group from New York, will return to Omagh 10 years after the Omagh bombing in which 29 people lost their lives. Chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, Father Mychal Judge, who died on 9/11, was part of the convoy that went to Northern Ireland in 1998.
Steven McDonald, 51, told the Irish Voice on Monday he is returning to Ireland to “continue to show the people of Northern Ireland that America support their efforts to secure lasting peace.”
Discussing their reconciliation trip in 1998 McDonald said, “I thought we were very successful last time. We met many people on both sides of the issue and we made friends with them, and some of them to this day are still our friends.”
The NYPD detective describes the timing of their visit in 1998 as a “God incident.” His party had planned for months to go to the North and “it just so happened that this terrible act of terrorism played out the day before we left. There are no coincidences in life,” he said, believing that God plays a role in everything.
McDonald described the Omagh tragedy as “devastating.” He remembers how families of the victims and residents of the town grabbed onto Judge’s robes while he walked down the street.
“We were very fortunate to be there for them. I think we were a help the short hours we were there to everyone we met,” he said.
Although McDonald admits he doesn’t have the financial means to support the people of the North, he said he has something better — his prayers.
“I have my prayers and experience that God has given me since I was shot 20 years ago,” he said. “People are still suffering, and it’s up to us to use our good will to secure a better future for those in Northern Ireland.”
McDonald and his delegation in 1998 met with many families who were affected by the Troubles. One particular lady stands out in McDonald’s memory.
Hazel McCreevey, a Protestant who was shot by a member of the IRA, turned to McDonald for support during his visit. “I spoke with her in January and she said that I made a difference to the lives of people in the North during our visits,” he said.
“I believe in the people of Northern Ireland, they have worked hard for their peace. People like me — all of us here in America — should be doing what we can do to support them in the days and months ahead with our money or talents. I hope with this trip I inspire people to get up and go and do something for these great people,” he added.
McDonald feels the recent peace process offers a real lesson for the rest of the world.
“We have many issues including racial violence here in our country, and if anything I’ve learned from visiting Northern Ireland people can co-exist and forgive each other. People chose to move forward and we should all take note of that,” he said.
McDonald explains that the visit, which will begin on May 11, is important to show the people of Northern Ireland that just because there is peace, “you are not forgotten.” This is McDonald’s way of supporting the Good Friday Agreement and helping it to “move forward.”