Colum Eastwood joins tributes to Chuck Feeney who has died aged 92

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SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has paid tribute to the late Irish-American philanthropist Chuck Feeney, who has died.

The 92-year-old New Jersey native passed away on Monday.

Through his The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation Mr. Feeney donated billions of dollars to various causes around the world including to educational institutions and peace-building initiatives in Ireland.

Mr. Eastwood said: “I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Chuck Feeney following his passing at the age of 92.

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The late Chuck Feeney who has passed away.The late Chuck Feeney who has passed away.
The late Chuck Feeney who has passed away.

"The best tribute I can pay to him is the unbelievable amount of good he did throughout his lifetime. He has left an incredible legacy and is directly responsible for improving the lives of people around the world.”

In 1982 Mr. Feeney decided to donate the wealth he had made through his duty-free businesses to various causes and by the time The Atlantic Philanthropies closed its doors in 2020 it had given away over $8 billion.

Mr. Eastwood said: “Chuck Feeney used his wealth to help others and it’s a testament to his work that many of his contemporaries have followed his example.

"Through his outstanding generosity he left in indelible mark on the North and our island, with his support for our universities, education system and in encouraging peace.

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“We should all be lucky to live as long and productive a life as Chuck Feeney and to use our own talents and good fortune to help others in need and encourage positive change in the places that need it most. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”

Born Charles Francis Feeney to Irish-American parents in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1931, ‘Chuck’ Feeney traced his roots to County Fermanagh.

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President Michael D. Higgins said his donations to education in Ireland had helped ‘empower children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus playing an innovative role in the shaping of the more equal and just Ireland of today’.

“It is important too that we recognise the contribution made by Chuck Feeney in the long journey towards peace and reconciliation on our island. The Irish people will remain deeply appreciative of his quiet and generous work in moving the process forward, while also providing funding for important reconciliation and regeneration projects.

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“I had the honour of presenting Chuck Feeney, who remained proud of his Fermanagh roots, with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 2012, in recognition of his extraordinary commitment to the education sector and to the wider spheres of research and civil society throughout the island of Ireland.

“I also fondly recall meeting with him during my official visit to the West Coast of the United States in October 2015, where we joined in paying tribute at the Martin Luther King Civic Centre to those Irish students who tragically lost their lives in the Berkeley tragedy.

“May I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Helga, to his children and extended family, and to all his many friends and colleagues,” said the President.

The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation, stated: “We mourn the loss of Atlantic Founder Charles F. Feeney, who devoted his entire personal fortune to global philanthropy in his lifetime.”