Photo : Tom Roche with US human rights attorney Steven Donziger in New York in June 2023



THE CREATOR of a much-loved Limerick sculpture is to stage a hunger strike over his concerns surrounding oil company Texaco.

Cathal Doherty

18 Aug 2023 9:00 AM

Tom Roche, from Offaly, is currently in Limerick for a number of days to repair the Finucane Memorial on Barrington’s Pier in the city.

He says he intends to conduct his hunger strike at the popular location once the repairs are complete.

One of Mr Roche’s main concerns relates to what he believes is a “serious conflict of interest” at UNICEF Ireland.

Mr Roche has taken issue with former Munster Rugby and Ireland legend Donncha O’Callaghan – a board member and ambassador of UNICEF Ireland – as he is also a sports ambassador for Texaco.

Mr Roche who turns 74 in a matter of days says he has contacted Mr O’Callaghan, Texaco and UNICEF Ireland numerous times regarding the issue but he is now “being ignored”.

Mr Roche disagrees with Texaco and how they use sports and the arts in what he claims is an attempt to soften and polish their image and insert themselves into the artistic and social fabric of the country.

“Now that I’ve just completed the Finucane Memorial in memory of two of Ireland’s great humanitarians, I feel I have no option but to take on this hunger strike as I’m calling it,” he said.

The Finucane Memorial, a commemorative bench at Barrington’s Pier, celebrates the lives of Shelbourne Road brothers Fathers Aengus and Jack Finucane.

The pair were young priests during the famine in Biafra which arose out of the Nigerian Civil War when John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy formed Concern Africa, which became a global charity.

It’s from there that their long history with Concern started, with both brothers working to help the world’s poorest people in a whole host of countries.

“I’ve had such a long association with Limerick, I think the time is right to raise this in the public arena,” Mr Roche said.

The sculptor has given over 30 years of his life to educating young people on sustainability through his Wood of Life exhibition between Mary Immaculate College, UL and libraries.

“This issue with UNICEF completely undermines all of those years of hard work, working with children, it’s sending out a double message that you have this very well-known sports star who everyone loves and respects and is, on one hand, promoting the very good work of UNICEF and on the other hand he’s promoting Texaco’s greenwashing,” Mr Roche added.

Mr Roche is set to go on hunger strike at Barrington’s Pier on Saturday, August 19 from 8am until 8pm.

At the time of going to press, the Limerick Leader had not received a response to a query from Donncha O’Callaghan or Texaco.

SOURCE: The Limerick Leader

WATCH: Finucane Memorial sculptor discusses reasons for hunger striking in Limerick