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President pays tribute to Concern

The contribution of thousands of Irish people to the work of Ireland's biggest aid agency, Concern, has been acknowledged by the President at a packed reception in Aras an Uachtarain this afternoon.

 President McAleese welcomed almost 200 staff members – past and present, fundraisers and supporters of the Concern Debates from all over Ireland as well as the founding members of the organisation at the event marking Concern’s 40th anniversary.

They included husband and wife team, John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy, who were instrumental in the response to the devastating famine in Biafra in 1968, which led directly to the setting up of the original Africa Concern.

Also present were former chief executive Aengus Finucane and his brother Jack, both of whom played a key role in that emergency operation and in Concern’s growth over the subsequent decades into one of the world’s leading and most respected humanitarian aid and long-term development agencies.

Paying tribute to those present, President McAleese said: “Nothing you have done was ever done for thanks or recognition but on this anniversary it is only right that we stop for a moment and take time to acknowledge all that has been done, why it has been done, how it has been done and the wonderful people who, in a huge variety of ways have been the hands of Concern’s work.”

“To the people at the receiving end of your help, you have been a welcome, even a miraculous friend on the ground as well as a formidable champion in high places where policies and plans are made that impact directly and indirectly on the everyday lives of the poorest…I thank each of you here, thank you to all who have helped grow Concern into the global phenomenon it has become.”

Speaking at the reception, Concern’s current Chief Executive Mr Tom Arnold said: “Over the past 40 years we – and the many millions of people on whose behalf Concern has worked and is working – have benefitted enormously from the practical generosity and solidarity of communities across Ireland.” 

“Thousands of people have volunteered their talents and time in different ways. They have been deployed as aid workers in emergency disaster situations and development specialists in the world’s poorest countries.”

“But there have also been countless unsung heroes who have made that work possible and helped highlight the issues facing the world’s poorest people by raising funds and awareness back here in Ireland. They, too, have made an essential contribution to Concern’s efforts to support victims of war and natural disaster and tackle extreme poverty.”

Today with more than 3,200 staff of 50 nationalities, Concern works in 28 of the poorest countries in the world, supporting people to achieve their potential and secure long-lasting improvements in their lives through programmes in health and nutrition, education, HIV and AIDS and agricultural and livelihood security.

To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Concern will be hosting a major conference on hunger in Dublin in October. It will be attended by an internationally-recognised line-up of speakers. An art and writing competition is also planned for school students, with the winners announced at the conference.

Cick here to visit the 40th anniversary section of Concern.net