Chernobyl activist Adi Roche to receive Freedom of Cork city
Campaigner humbled to be nominated for the honour by Lord Mayor of Cork
Adi Roche, who is being awarded the Freedom of Cork City, greets a teenager from the Chernobyl region of Belarus who visited Ireland through her Chernobyl Children International charity. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.
Councillors voted on Tuesday night in favour of a motion from Lord of Mayor Chris O’Leary to award her the honour, by 27 votes to two with one abstention.
Cllr O’Leary said he was delighted his proposal to honour Ms Roche with the Freedom of Cork had received near unanimous support from his fellow councillors as he believed she was a worthy recipient of such a prestigious honour.
“In moving the Freedom of the City, I pondered long and hard on it because it would have to be someone who would reach an international standard as well as a local and national level and I believe Adi Roche does that through her pioneering work with the children of Chernobyl,” he said.
“I did go out to Chernobyl last year and I saw at first hand the remarkable work being done by Adi Roche - I’ve been aware of Adi for 30 years and I know how difficult it has been for an NGO like the Chernobyl Children International in what are often very closed countries.”
Ms Roche, who is currently en route to Ukraine and Belarus, said she was humbled to have been nominated for the Freedom of Cork, which has previously been awarded to the late US president John F Kennedy and former Irish presidents Mary Robinson and MaryMcAleese.
“I’m greatly honoured, privileged and proud to accept the Freedom of the City of Cork on behalf of myself and all our wonderful volunteers, staff and donors and on behalf of all the innocent victims of Chernobyl especially the children,” she said.
“In this the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic nuclear accident at Chernobyl and in this the 100th year anniversary of the emergence of our great nation there could be no greater honour... I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and the men and women of Cork City Council for their generosity.”
A former lord mayor, Cllr Terry Shannon of Fianna Fáil, who voted against the proposal along with party colleague Cllr Sean Martin, said he had nothing against Ms Roche but he believed the Freedom of Cork was being devalued by being awarded too frequently.