On the 16th Anniversary of the World’s Worst Nuclear Accident, Minister O’Donnell Praises Unparalleled Irish Response to Chernobyl Victims
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O’Donnell T.D today opened an exhibition of photography, “Blackwind Whiteland Living with Chernobyl”, at Civic Offices, Wood Quay, which has been organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Project and is being sponsored by Ireland Aid, the Irish Government Aid programme. Last year, the Irish Government supported the same exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Opening the exhibition Minister O’Donnell said
“The world must not forget or minimise the devastating impact Chernobyl continues to have on the populations of Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.”
The Minister then added that
“Long after the headlines have faded, these artistic works force us to revisit the overwhelming health, environmental, psychological and social consequences of the disaster and the personal human tragedies for individuals and families. On a brighter note the exhibits also celebrate the profound acts of humanitarianism and compassion which the disaster has prompted from so many people, particularly Irish people.”
In outlining her reasons for supporting this exhibition the Minister stated
“The Irish people have made a greater financial contribution per capita to Chernobyl than any other nation in the world, and I was most anxious to bring the exhibition home. Thousands of extraordinary Irish men, women and children have been touched by the suffering of the affected populations. The Irish health service has provided life-saving operations for dozens of children and thousands of others have been brought to Ireland for a holiday. Many of these children are now a part of Ireland with many Irish friends. Medical supplies and other assistance worth many millions of EURO have also been delivered to the affected region from Ireland. Orphanages have been re-habilitated, children loved and hugged by many hundreds of Irish people.”
In paying tribute to the dedication of all those involved in helping the victims of Chernobyl, the Minister said
“This unique humanitarian effort to help the victims of Chernobyl would not have been achieved without the truly inspiring dedication of Adi Roche, Ali Hewson and the numerous volunteers at the Chernobyl Children’s Project and the other Irish non-governmental organisations operating in the affected areas. The fact that the Chernobyl Children’s Project was selected by the United Nations to mark the 15th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster last year is testament to this enormous contribution and the high regard in which the organisation is held.
In concluding, Minister O’ Donnell said
“These works will make you cry and will make you angry, and will I hope make you reflect on the real danger posed by nuclear power and environmental disasters.
I would like to wish the Chernobyl Children’s Project, all those involved here at the Civic Offices, and the artists whose work is displayed, every success with this magnificent exhibition. I have no doubt that this unique insight into the legacy of Chernobyl will have a profound effect on all those who experience it.”
Note for Editors
Ireland Aid in sponsoring this event reflects the Irish Governments traditional humanitarian focus and commitment to the protection of the global environment. Our ODA budget is €454 million this year. Ireland is now 7th in the world donor league as a percentage of GNP and in the context of expanding budget we have recently decided to allocate at least 2% of our aid to the poor countries of South-East Europe.
Ireland participates actively in efforts in the European Union and the United Nations to combat regional and global environmental problems and to advance international efforts to promote sustainable development and respect for our common global environment.
Over 6.5 million EURO has been pledged by Ireland to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund to support its vital work of securing and stabilising the disaster site. This pledge is in addition to our share of the EU contribution and is indicative of the Government’s commitment to the challenge of ensuring nuclear safety, globally and indeed closer to home with the threat posed by Sellafield.
The Irish Government has also provided substantial support to the United Nations Development Programme for Chernobyl in responding to the humanitarian needs which exist in the sectors of environment, health and socio-psychological rehabilitation in the affected states.