Bravery awards include posthumous gold medal for boy (13)

Twenty-eight individuals, plus Kilmore Quay lifeboat crew, get National Bravery Awards

 

Alibanga Musifer has been living in Ireland for 20 years but cannot, for the life of trying, regularise his presence here.

And so he limps along in limbo. . . a little preaching here, a little spreading the word of God there.

That, and tackling a balaclava-wearing, would-be post office robber armed with a gun and a knife.

Mr Musifer was one of 28 people, plus the crew of the Kilmore Quay lifeboat, to receive National Bravery Awards at a ceremony yesterday in Farmleigh House in Dublin.

In May 2005 he was in the post office on Botanic Avenue in Glasnevin and, having done his business and blessed the person who served him (Mr Musifer is an evangelical preacher who lives his faith), he turned to leave only to find himself staring at a man wearing a balaclava and black gloves, and brandishing a small handgun and a knife.

“I felt the power of God in me,” Mr Musifer said yesterday, explaining what happened next.

He grabbed the man by the arm and tussled with him, the pair of them crashing through the post office window and out on to the street. Thereafter, he restrained the would-be robber until gardaí arrived.

Mr Musifer’s papers are not entirely in order but he hopes that soon, one day, he will be able to call himself a citizen of Ireland, the State which has now justly honoured him. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Deeds of Bravery Council chairman who presented him with a bronze medal and certificate for bravery, said he would do what he could to help.

In the meantime, Mr Musifer, a man who radiates warmth and happiness, will continue to preach in a room lent to him at the Teacher’s Club in Parnell Square. “I want to bring people back to Christ through the values of Christianity,” he says.

Carrickmines fire

A particularly poignant award went to John Connors, who fought furiously to save the lives of the Connors, Gilbert and Lynch families – 10 of whom died in a fire at a halting site in Carrickmines, Co Dublin, a year ago.

As he was handed his silver medal and bravery certificate, compere and broadcaster Mary Kennedy remarked on the “absolutely huge bravery” he displayed in raising the alarm and pulling children from a burning caravan – first by reaching in through a window and then also by going inside the blazing hulk.

Asked yesterday about the recognition accorded him, Mr Connors commented wanly: “Well, I’d be excited if the rest of my family was here to get it with me.”

In August 2014, John Purcell was walking his dog along the path at Leinster Street in Phibsborough when a man went past him in the opposite direction. A few seconds later, Mr Purcell heard women screaming and, looking around, he could see what was happening.

“The mother was up against the door covered in blood and the daughter was on the ground being hit with a hammer,” he recalled.

Mr Purcell pulled the mother to safety and then went inside the house to rescue her daughter. There, he was confronted by the man, the estranged husband and father, who swung the hammer at Mr Purcell before running off, chased by Mr Purcell.

The two women recovered and the man was given a lengthy prison sentence.

Gold medal

And so it went on, 29 incidents of uncommon bravery, sometimes involving so-called ordinary people, other times involving those whom society expects to step up on such occasions – gardaí, fire fighters and lifeboat personnel – and who discharge their duty, almost invariably without a care to their own well-being.

The highest award, a gold medal for bravery, went to Ricky Osagie, and four pals who each received bravery certificates – Lee Weir, Sam Masu, Yusuf Balogun and Ionut Plesca.

In June 2014 the five were playing near a lake at Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, when they saw two girls swimming and getting into difficulty. Ricky jumped in to help, followed by the others.

Lee, Sam, Yusuf and Ionut pulled the girls to safety. But there was no sign of 13-year-old Ricky.

Lee went back in to try to find him but the water was too muddy to see. Yesterday, his father, Kelly Osagie, accepted the posthumous gold medal awarded to his late son.