Along with his late brother, Fr Aengus Finucane, the Limerick-born priest was at the heart of famine relief efforts in Biafra in the 1960s and Ethiopia in the 1980s.
He advised Bob Geldof on the Live Aid appeal and brought Bono to the East African nation in 1985. The U2 frontman said he was a huge influence on his thinking on international development.
Fr Jack Finucane died on Wednesday in Kimmage Manor in Dublin. He was 80.
President Michael D Higgins said: “Jack 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.”
Concern Worldwide chief 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.”
Mr MacSorley said the true extent of Fr Finucane’s achievements may never be fully understood.
He was ordained in 1963 and sent to Nigeria with the Holy Ghost Fathers and was at the heart of the distribution of aid being flown into Biafra by Concern and other relief organisations.
In 1994, he witnessed more than one million flee Rwanda into Goma, Zaire, and two years later he saw the same population stream across the border to return home.
He retired in 2002 but in 2004 flew to Sudan to lead Concern’s response to the Darfur crisis and later oversaw operations in tsunami-affected Sri Lanka.