Tributes paid as co-founder of Concern charity dies

Fr Jack Finucane was also an advisor to Bob Geldof and Live Aid

Tributes paid as co-founder of Concern charity dies

Fr Jack Finucan pictured at Aras an Uachtarain in 2014 | Image: RollingNews.ie

A co-founder of the Irish charity Concern Worldwide has died.

Fr Jack Finucane passed away peacefully  Wednesday in Dublin at the age of 80.

 Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan offered his sympathies to Fr Finucane’s family, friends and colleagues and staff in Concern Worldwide.

 He said: “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.

“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.

Minister of State for International Development, Joe McHugh, added: “The world of development and overseas aid has lost a giant today.

“With Fr Finucane’s passing, we have lost an original guiding spirit who helped shape the way aid organisations work. He led the way and he did it in the field, starting in the conflict of Biafra.”

And the CEO of Concern, Dominic MacSorley, said: "An unassuming leader, he brought intelligence, drive and passion to what is now Ireland’s leading humanitarian and development organisation.

"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.”

From Limerick to Live Aid

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 USA 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 - 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.

Fr Finucane formally retired in 2002 but never stopped working for Concern.