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Tuesday 12 December 2017

President leads tributes as leading member Concern dies aged 80

Fr Jack Finucane was a leading member of the NGO for several decades

President Michael D Higgins receiving the Fr. Aengus Finucane Award for Services to Humanity with Fr Jack Finucane (Picture: Maxwells)
President Michael D Higgins receiving the Fr. Aengus Finucane Award for Services to Humanity with Fr Jack Finucane (Picture: Maxwells) Newsdesk Newsdesk

Leading humanitarian Fr Jack Finucane, who played a key role in Concern Worldwide, has passed away.

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to the humanitarian.

"It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Jack Finucane, priest, [and] humanitarian," he said in a statement.

"Jack, and his late brother Fr Aengus Finucane were inspirational figures among the large group of people in Ireland who value and embody the importance of the humanitarian spirit.

"Theirs was a distinctive voice and their life’s work leaves a real, positive, and enduring legacy for millions of people across the globe, as well as having contributed to Ireland’s reputation abroad in the best possible sense."

"I had the great privilege of meeting Jack Finucane in Somalia during the Famine, and on many occasions since.

The President said Fr Finucane's "lifelong commitment to protecting the dignity of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people will stand not only as a lasting tribute to all that is good about mankind, but is exemplary in its invitation not to avert our gaze from our current challenges of global hunger and poverty."

Fr Finucane, a native of Limerick, founded the charity alongside his brother Aengus and both men have been globally recognised for their contribution to humanitarian work.

The brothers led famine relief efforts in the 1960s in the Biafra region which  greatly influenced their work with Concern Worldwide.

Fr Finucane passed away yesterday peacefully in Kimmage Manor in Dublin at the age of 80.

Speaking about the life of Fr Finucane, CEO of Concern Worldwide, Dominic MacSorley, said:


"An unassuming leader, he brought intelligence, drive and passion to what is now Ireland’s leading humanitarian and development organisation. Along with his brother, Aengus, they were a bridge between Ireland’s long tradition of missionary work defining contemporary humanitarian response characterised by professional, practical, compassionate solutions on the ground. Together, they brought a nation with them.

"What Jack has achieved may never be fully quantified but he has saved and improved the lives of millions of people caught up in crisis and poverty. Sorely missed, he leaves behind a legacy of incredible humanitarian significance.”

Fr Finucane was an advisor to Bob Geldof and his Live Aid team. In 1985, he brought a young Bono on his first trip to Ethiopia and the singer has credited him with having a huge influence on his thinking with regard to international development.

Fr Finucane retired in 2002 but remained involved.

"In 2004, without hesitation, he abandoned all plans for the summer and flew to Sudan to lead Concern’s response to the Darfur crisis and later went on to oversee Concern’s operations in tsunami-affected Sri Lanka. Throughout, he remained passionate and engaged in everything to do with Concern including serving on the board of Concern Worldwide US," the charity said in a statement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has also paid tribute to Fr Finucane.

“Fr Jack Finucane was an inspiration and was the driving force behind the foundation of Concern Worldwide. People of my generation remember Fr Finucane and his brother, Fr Aengus, showing the most extraordinary moral and physical courage in bringing food and humanitarian assistance to the starving of Biafra in the late 1960s," he said.

“In Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Rwanda, and indeed, in his work with Live Aid, he saved many lives and inspired others to join the struggle for global justice.  His legacy will endure in the work of the organisation he helped to found, Concern Worldwide.  And his example will continue to inspire all those who champion the cause of global development”.

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