Tributes paid to Concern co-founder Father Jack Finucane

Mandatory credit Liam Burke Undated handout photo issued by Concern Worldwide of Father Aengus Finucane and his brother Father Jack Finucane (right) who has died
Mandatory credit Liam Burke Undated handout photo issued by Concern Worldwide of Father Aengus Finucane and his brother Father Jack Finucane (right) who has died

Tributes have been paid to humanitarian and co-founder of Concern Father Jack Finucane who has died.

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.

Mandatory credit Liam Burke Undated handout photo issued by Concern Worldwide of humanitarian and co-founder of Concern Father Jack Finucane who has died

Mandatory credit Liam Burke Undated handout photo issued by Concern Worldwide of humanitarian and co-founder of Concern Father Jack Finucane who has died

He advised Sir 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 executive 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 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 retired in 2002 but two years later he flew to Sudan to lead Concern's response to the Darfur crisis and later went on to oversee the agency's operations in tsunami-affected Sri Lanka.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "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. And his example will continue to inspire all those who champion the cause of global development."

Minister for Overseas Development Joe McHugh added: "The world of development and overseas aid has lost a giant. With Fr Finucane's passing, we have lost an original guiding spirit who helped shape the way aid organisations work."