Northern Ireland

Former Trócaire worker Sally O'Neill dies in Guatemala

Sally O'Neill with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabin Image copyright TONY_MAXWELL
Image caption Sally O'Neill met with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina in connection with her work

A prominent human rights activist from County Tyrone has died in a car crash in Guatemala.

Sally O'Neill, from Dungannon, worked for the Irish development agency Trócaire for 37 years.

She worked primarily on development projects in Latin America, but also on famine relief in Africa.

Irish President Michael D Higgins praised the "brilliance, compassion, and limitless courage" Ms O'Neill brought to her work.

"I was privileged to have her as a friend and will never forget the brilliant guidance and assistance she provided on so many occasions and in so many places," he said.

'Relentless'

"Through her work she empowered countless people and she was relentless in calling on those with power to bring their influence to bear on the policies and politics that affected those most vulnerable," President Higgins added.

Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra said: "Sally was much beloved by communities and human rights activists throughout Central America.

"She dedicated her life to improving the lives of others.

"Her legacy will live on through the thousands of people whose lives she helped to improve."

She worked in Central America at a time when civil wars were being fought in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Ms O'Neill retired from Trócaire in April 2015 having joined the organisation in 1978.

Prior to her retirement she was the organisation's head of region for Latin America and was based in Honduras.

She continued to work with prisoners and migrants in Honduras where she lived.

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