RTE’s Joe Duffy takes Chernobyl children on open top bus tour of Dublin city

Jane O'Faherty

RTE’s Joe Duffy brought a group of Chernobyl children on a grand tour of Dublin as they begin their summer stay in Ireland.

The Liveline presenter accompanied 20 children from Belarus and Russia on an open-top tour of the capital, and some cupcakes and chocolate along the way.

The group are among 150 children and young people who will spend their summer with Irish host families throughout the country.

It comes 30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which has had a devastating impact on generations born afterwards.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Joe said the group would be boarding a City Sightseeing open top bus and tucking into treats from Sweet Republic.

Later in the evening they would be heading to the Savoy Cinema on O’Connell St, he added.

“Believe it or not, and it’s hard to believe a lot of the things we hear about the difficulties faced by these young people after Chernobyl, this is the first time for many of them to go to a cinema,” he said.

Joe also praised the families who volunteer as hosts with Chernobyl Children International (CCI) and treat the kids “like royalty”.

“Remember, they do it totally voluntarily,” he said. “They don’t get any money. They give everything they’ve got and more to this group of young people.”

“They’re treated like VIPs here, they’ve access all areas,” he added. “They don’t put their hands in their pocket for anything and rightly so.

“They’re being looked after like royalty - the way they should be looked after all the time and that’s why I think Dublin is a treat.”

Adi Roche, Voluntary CEO of CCI said the Irish people have continued to open their hearts to the children of Chernobyl three decades on, adding that their “kindness and generosity is unfailing”.

“In this the 30th Anniversary year of the worst nuclear disaster in history, we must recommit, rededicate and redouble our efforts to help alleviate these children’s suffering,” she added.

“Radioactive contamination is still having an adverse effect on the lives and health of the children of the Chernobyl regions.”

Since 1991, 25,000 children from Belarus and Western Russia have come to Ireland with CCI on this Rest and Recuperation programme.

Meanwhile, €100m worth of aid has been delivered to assist impoverished communities and children in Chernobyl regions since 1986.