‘Breakfast for Aleppo’

April 20, 2023 in Featured News, News

Tony O’Riordan SJ spoke to over one hundred Oireachtas staff and invited guests in Dáil Éireann, as part of a fundraiser for victims of the recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey. The ‘Breakfast for Aleppo’ event was organised by Senator Rónán Mullen who knows Tony from their college days in University College Galway. It raised almost €12,000 for JRS Syria.

Senator Mullen made a widespread appeal for people to come to Leinster house for breakfast on Thursday 20 April 2023 and make a suggested donation of €50 or more either on the day or by clicking on the donation link set up by Irish Jesuits International in Dublin » The Senator offered a possible tour of the Dáil, (crowds permitting) for those who turned up either on the day or at a later date.

Welcoming all those who had come Senator Mullen said, “So many communities affected by the recent earthquake were already suffering death, destruction and devastation as a result of the civil war in Syria. Many of those donating today feel a great debt of gratitude to Fr Tony O Riordan and the Jesuit Refugee Services for their good work on the ground on all our behalf. In these Easter days it is a reminder of the hope of the Resurrection.”

Commenting on the money that was raised, he said, that nearly €6,000 was received by his office for this fundraiser so far, not counting the many donations made directly to Irish Jesuits International by those invited to or attending today. Those contributions online and by credit card raised an additional €5,500.

“We are delighted by this response and know that people’s donations will be well and wisely spent to help some of the most vulnerable people in our world today,” he added.

Tony, who is Director of Jesuit Refugee Service Syria was back in Ireland on a short family visit and welcomed the opportunity offered to him by Senator Mullan in order to continue his ongoing fundraising for the people of Syria.

He spoke to those gathered about the ongoing problems facing the people in Aleppo and further afield in Syria and described the work of JRS there in meeting the many urgent needs occasioned by the earthquake.

Tony thanked all those who had come and donated at the breakfast and indeed all those who in the months since the earthquake had continued to support the work of the JRS in Syria.;

The recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey left over 50,000 dead and plunged many more people into homeless, hunger, cold, and fear as people struggled to survive and help loved ones in sub-zero temperatures.

In his letter of invitation to the fundraiser, Rónán Mullen quoted Tony from an interview he gave to RTE’s Morning Ireland at the time.

“Listening to survivors, it is hard to take in the level of terror they have lived through during the earthquake, they are in deep shock and their sense of safety and security has collapsed along with many of the buildings,” said Tony.

Senator Mullen also referenced the work JRS was already doing in Syria before the earthquake, providing health, education, protection, and peace-building services to people caught up in the Syrian civil war. And he explained how now their work includes supplying basic food and clothing needs as well as counselling and psychological support to the stricken people of Aleppo.

“Thursday morning’s event is a response to Fr Tony O’Riordan’s appeal for support,” said the Senator adding, “I know Fr Tony from my own college days in UCG. His practical response over the years to the suffering and deprivation of people in different parts of the world is greatly admired by his many friends. We are honoured to help in any way we can.”

Senator Mullen is an independent Senator who is also a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Assisted Dying, looking at Assisted Dying/Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia issues. He is also outspoken on human rights issues such as human trafficking and the exploitation of women.