Co-founder of Concern Fr Jack Finucane dies

Co-founder of Concern Fr Jack Finucane dies

The co-founder of one of Ireland's largest charities, Concern, has died.

President Michael D Higgins led tributes to Fr Jack Finucane.

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

President Higgins said Mr Finucane's lifelong commitment to protecting the dignity of some of the world's poorest and most marginalised people would stand as a lasting tribute to all that is good about mankind.

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."

Born in Limerick in 1937 and ordained a priest in 1963, Fr Finucane was sent to Nigeria with the Holy Ghost Fathers and was at the heart of the distribution of aid flown into Biafra by Concern and other relief organisations.

Following the surrender of Biafra, he was arrested by the Nigerian authorities and spent several weeks in prison before being deported. He then went to the United States of America where he spent a period in parish Ministry and studied in San Francisco for a Masters in Education.

In 1973, he was posted to Bangladesh, a country he loved and returned to often. But it was the 1984 famine in Ethiopia where Fr Finucane's knowledge of the country, his considerable diplomatic skills enabled Concern to mount a massive response to the crisis.

By the time that famine received worldwide attention, Concern had a team of 46 expatriates and 890 national staff on the ground. He 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.

In 1994, he witnessed over one million people fleeing from Rwanda into Goma, Zaire, and two years later he saw the same population stream across the border to return home. A powerful driving force, he visited the region almost every month, encouraging and supporting new and innovative resettlement programmes that included supporting hundreds of thousands caught up in horrific prison conditions or reuniting more than 30,000 separated and unaccompanied children.


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