Monday 5 December 2016

Hollywood stars drop UNICEF support after Melanie sacking

Published 28/07/2011 | 05:00

Melanie Verwoerd with Roger Moore
Melanie Verwoerd with Liam Neeson during UNICEF functions

THREE top Hollywood stars -- all A-list supporters of UNICEF -- have broken their silence on the controversial sacking of the charity's Irish director Melanie Verwoerd.

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Liam Neeson, Vanessa Redgrave and Roger Moore have all withdrawn their high-profile support of the children's charity and urged it to reinstate the former South African ambassador who inspired them to become goodwill ambassadors

They called her dismissal as executive director "a profoundly damaging loss to UNICEF".

Mr Neeson said he was pulling out of a commitment he made when Ms Verwoerd was at the helm to take a field trip to Mozambique with his sons.

His mother-in-law, veteran actress Vanessa Redgrave, said she was cancelling an upcoming benefit that she was producing for UNICEF Ireland at Dublin's Grand Canal Theatre in September.

In a statement last night by all three actors, they said they fully supported Ms Verwoerd who was dismissed by the charity's board over the publicity surrounding her relationship with the late RTE radio star Gerry Ryan.

Disturbed

They wrote: "We are profoundly disturbed by the news that the UNICEF National Committee of Ireland has dismissed our colleague, Melanie Verwoerd, the Irish committee's executive director.

"She has been hounded by the Irish press, but throughout her commitment to UNICEF has been unwavering.

"So firm is our trust in Melanie Verwoerd as an exceptional UNICEF advocate and leader, that we are compelled to say that we view the dismissal of Melanie as a profoundly damaging loss to UNICEF.

"Both Melanie Verwoerd, and each of us, made our pledges to UNICEF to always put the children first.

"We ask UNICEF and its supporters to officially recognise her value, and offer her another post with UNICEF, so that she may continue her vocation and exceptional commitment.

"At this moment putting children first means Melanie Verwoerd," the statement added.

Irish Independent

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