Irish UN official killed in Port-au-Prince

 

AN IRISH citizen working as a senior United Nations official in Haiti is among those who died following last week’s earthquake.

Andrew Grene (44), a citizen of both Ireland and the US, was special assistant to the head of the UN stabilisation mission in Haiti, Hédi Addabi, who also died.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin yesterday paid tribute to Mr Grene. “Andrew is part of a long and honourable Irish tradition of public service with the United Nations,” he said.

“His family, and indeed Ireland, can be very proud of his work. My thoughts are with Andrew’s wife and children and all his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Mr Grene, who was born in Chicago, spent his childhood summers living on a farm in Derrycark, near Belturbet in Cavan.

While in Belturbet he attended Fairgreen school. He went on to the University of Chicago and earned an MPhil from Trinity College Dublin and studied at Medill School of Journalism.

Mr Grene is survived by his wife Jennifer, who is from Belfast, and their three children Patrick (20), Alex (19) and Rosamund (14).

His twin, Gregory, is a founder member of US-based Celtic rock band The Prodigals. On hearing confirmation of his brother’s death, Gregory Grene said: “The body of my darling, sweetest twin was found last night. He was a better and more beautiful man than can be expressed here.”

His Chicago-born mother, Ethel May Weiss, is an emergency room doctor, and his half-brother Nicholas Grene is a professor of English at Trinity College Dublin.

Mr Grene’s late father, from Donnybrook in Dublin, was a classics translator and professor at the University of Chicago.

Mike MacKinnon, a colleague of Mr Grene, writing on the UN’s Facebook page for workers and families, said: “The UN has lost one of its most dedicated, able and kind officers. It is a poorer institution today as a result. Like so many others, I have lost a dear friend and mentor. He will be profoundly missed.”

The UN has confirmed that at least 40 of its staff in Haiti have died and more than 180 are unaccounted for.

Oxfam’s business manager in Haiti, local man Amedee Marescot, was one of two of its workers to be killed in the quake. Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken said: “Tragically we had two staff members who died in the earthquake, and many of our staff lost family members.” Mr Clarken described Mr Marescot as “very loyal, very energetic”.