'Paula was my baby sister with a big heart' - RTE's Tommie
RTE's Northern Ireland editor Tommie Gorman has spoken about the death of his sister, Paula, who was a dedicated community worker.
Paula came up with the name Meitheal, the Irish word for a work team, which has been adopted by the child and family agency Tusla as the name for its national early intervention practice model.
The veteran broadcaster revealed that Paula, who died in 2016, suffered from bad asthma and eczema as a child, and this may have given her an understanding and empathy for people who are vulnerable.
Speaking as Tusla launched its National Child and Family Support Week, Gorman said his sister was always dedicated to her career in caring.
"Paula was my baby sister with a big heart. She loved life and she loved people and she was always trying to make things better," he said.
"She ran the resource house in Cranmore, which is a working-class area in the heart of Sligo. The house had activities going from morning until night, and crucially during the school holidays period.
"It became the community centre of Cranmore."
The house Paula ran was Tusla-funded.
"Paula believed in the work and loved the people," Gorman said.
"It was her hometown and she knew the place, and the great thing about the work she did was that she could see the need for it, and also the benefits.
"If problems were beginning to bubble underneath the surface you could try early intervention. She was a great believer in that.
"From the time Paula was a little baby she always had a kindness about her.
"As a child she had serious asthma and eczema, and I suppose she realised through her own life about vulnerability.
"So she was never fully healthy, but I suppose she was always fighting something and I think that gave her energy and courage.
"So it gave her an awareness of people who were vulnerable, and I think that was the great thing about her work."
Gorman said he and Paula's parents were rural people from Sligo and Leitrim who knew the value of community.
"If people didn't have money they had other skills and energies so they could contribute something," he said.
"So Meitheal was a concept that came from grassroots and from communities, where people pooled their resources and helped each other.
"It was part of Paula's upbringing. It was part of her DNA believing in this concept of Meitheal."
Tusla launched its first-ever national promotional drive this week to highlight the range of services it provides as part of its Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) programme.
Tusla National Child and Family Support Week aims to create widespread public awareness of Tusla's PPFS programme.