'It's an incredible relief' - Chernobyl children start their Irish holiday
There were tears of joy at Shannon Airport as a group of special-needs youngsters, who are among the third generation of children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, arrived in Ireland for a well-deserved summer break.
The group of 145 children from orphanages and homes in the Chernobyl-affected region of Belarus were met by host families from 10 counties who will spend the next four weeks with the children.
The flight was organised by Cork campaigner Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International, which has brought more than 25,000 children and young adults from the nuclear disaster zone to Ireland for recreation and respite since 1991.
Ms Roche said radiation levels from the nuclear plant accident in April 1986 are still causing serious health concerns in Belarus.
There are also growing concerns internationally about the impact of wildfires currently raging in the highly contaminated exclusion zones.
She said: "It is an incredible relief to finally have the children here in Ireland, as an uncontrollable cocktail of radioactive elements are once again re-released into the environment and the human food chain in recent days.
"The radiation is spreading further and wider than before and it will have massive consequences on health and the environment," she added.