Cork gives Freedom of the City to Adi Roche, founder of Chernobyl Children International

Roche says the award "proclaims loudly: that the City of Cork, its citizens .... reach out beyond our city, our country and say to you, we will continue to do whatever we can to alleviate your suffering"

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Igor Shadzkou and Adi Roche on arrival from Chernobyl at Dublin Airport. Image: Sasko Lazarov/PhotocallIreland

Adi Roche, voluntary CEO and founder of Chernobyl Children International (CCI), has been awarded the Freedom of Cork City today, at a ceremony hosted by Cork Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O’Leary at Cork City Hall.

She described the award as a "a beacon of hope for the victims of Chernobyl".

"I graciously accept this unique award on my own behalf but more than that, I accept it gladly on behalf of all the victims and survivors of the world’s worst nuclear disaster that, even 30 years later, is still an unfolding tragedy.

“I also accept the Award on behalf of all our wonderful volunteers.  I salute you all, you are the life blood of our organisation, our charity, Chernobyl Children International.”

Ms Roche was given the accolade by the Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary and Cork City Council to recognise her humanitarian endeavours on behalf of the victims of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear disaster.

“This proud Award proclaims loudly: that the City of Cork, its citizens and public representatives, and by extension the people of Ireland, that we here in Cork reach out beyond our city, our country and say to you, the people who still suffer because of the consequences of Chernobyl, that you are in our thoughts and prayers and on this 30th anniversary of that tragedy.

"It says we will continue to do whatever we can to alleviate your suffering particularly the suffering of the innocent children that they are not forgotten!”

Ms Roche began working on Chernobyl in 1986 in the immediate aftermath of the accident and formally founded Chernobyl Children International (CCI) in 1991.

Previous recipients of the Freedom of Cork City include John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Eamon de Valera, Mary Robinson, Mary McAleese and John Hume to name a few.

Since 1986, the CCI has delivered €100 million worth of aid to communities impoverished by the Chernobyl disaster.

Some 25,000 children, meanwhile, have been given rest and recuperation holidays with Irish host families.