Adi Roche

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Adi Roche
Adi Roche

(1955-09-09) 9 September 1955 (age 63)
ResidenceCork, Ireland
OccupationCEO of Chernobyl Children International
OrganisationChernobyl Children International
Political partyLabour Party
Spouse(s)Seán Dunne (m. 1977)
WebsiteOfficial website

Adi Patricia Roche (born 9 August 1955) is an Irish activist, anti-nuclear advocate, campaigner for peace, humanitarian aid and education. She founded and is CEO of Chernobyl Children's Project International.

She has focused on the relief of suffering experienced by children in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Early life[edit]

Adi Roche was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary in 1955. After finishing secondary school she went to work for Aer Lingus.[1] She left in 1984, to work full-time as a volunteer for the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. She devised a Peace Education Programme and delivered it in over fifty schools throughout Ireland. In 1990, she became the first Irish woman elected to the board of directors of the International Peace Bureau at the United Nations in Geneva.[2]

Chernobyl Children International[edit]

In 1991, Roche founded the Chernobyl Children International, to provide aid to the children of Belarus, Western Russia and Ukraine.[1] The organisation is an international development, medical, and humanitarian one that works with children and families who continue to be affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.[3]

Under Roche's leadership, Chernobyl Children International (CCI) has delivered over €105 million to the areas most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and has enabled over 25,500 children affected by the Chernobyl disaster to come to Ireland for vital medical treatment and recuperation.[4][better source needed]

CCI’s ‘Homes of Hope’ programme provides the alternative to state institutions via 30 homes that have been purchased and renovated, this is the equivalent of closing two orphanages in Belarus. It takes children out of orphanages, and places them in loving homes of their own.

CCI has built and equipped the first ever baby hospice in Belarus. CCI has provided expert training to the staff to ensure the best care to patients. CCI pioneered the ground breaking adoption agreement between Ireland and Belarus, on behalf of the Government of Ireland. This agreement allowed hundreds of children to be adopted into Ireland.

Mental health and disability development: Since 1986 there has been a marked increase in children being born with mental and physical disabilities.[citation needed] CCI has pioneered the Human Rights of people incarcerated in institutional care. This is at the very heart of the CCI mission.

3,950 of life-saving cardiac surgeries performed and enabled over the last fifteen years in collaboration with Dr. William Novick of Novick Cardiac Alliance.

Work with United Nations[edit]

On 26 April 2016, the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Roche made a landmark address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In an unprecedented move the Belarusian UN delegation provided her with their speaking time at the General Assembly discussion on Chernobyl, in recognition of the international role Ireland and Chernobyl Children International has played in helping the victims of the Chernobyl catastrophe. It was the first time an ordinary person (non-diplomat/non-political person) has been extended the honour of speaking at the UN General Assembly during a country’s allocated time.

On 8 December 2016, as a direct result of her address the United Nations ratified "Persistent Legacy of Chernobyl disaster", a symbolic element of which is the implementation of "International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day"

Roche launched an exhibition of the Chernobyl disaster for the 15th Anniversary of the nuclear accident in the UN Headquarters in New York in 2001. The Chernobyl legacy was demonstrated through digital imagery, photographs and sculpture. Entitled Black Wind, White Land, the exhibition was a month-long, cross-cultural event featuring the works of artists depicting the suffering caused by the accident. It was deemed an outstanding success by the UN and had its European Premiere in Dublin in 2002.[5]

Shecontinues to work with the United Nations to highlight the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Over the last decade she has contributed to UN-sponsored conferences and symposia on the fallout of Chernobyl. She has addressed Ambassadors to the UN General Assembly, UNESCO conference on Chernobyl, and the Manchester International Peace Festival. Roche has provided advice and suggestions to the UN Needs Assessment Mission and has made several submissions on how NGO's could best be helped in their attempts to deliver humanitarian aid to the most affected areas in Belarus, Ukraine and western Russia.

In July 2003, she was the keynote speaker at the launch of the International Chernobyl Research and Information Network (ICRIN) in Geneva, Switzerland. ICRIN is a joint-sponsored initiative by the UN and the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation. Roche was appointed to represent NGO's on the Steering Committee of ICRIN.

To mark the 18th Anniversary of the tragedy in April 2004, Roche was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly at their headquarters in New York and to screen the Oscar award-winning documentary Chernobyl Heart. She was also invited by UNDP to sit on the organising committee and act as the keynote speaker at the International Chernobyl Conference held in Minsk in April 2006 to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. In 2004, Chernobyl Children International received official NGO status by the U.N.[6]

Honours and awards[edit]

Roche made a documentary, 'Black Wind, White Land', highlighting Chernobyl children's suffering and the following year she was awarded the European Woman Laureate Award and was crowned the Republic's Person of the Year.[2]

In 1997, Roche received Tipperary International Peace Award,[7] described as "Ireland's outstanding award for humanitarian work."[8] In 2001, she was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree by the University of Alberta, Canada. In 2007, Roche won the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award.

In 2010, Roche received the World of Children Health Award. Since then, Chernobyl Children International has saved the lives of thousands of children born with congenital heart defects. She also received the 2015 World of Children Alumni Award Honoree, for the "incredible impact she continues to have in the lives of the children of the Chernobyl region". Also in 2015, Roche won the Princess Grace Humanitarian Award.[9][6]


  • Freedom of the City of Cork 2016[10]
  • Pride of Ireland Lifetime Achievement Award 2016[11]
  • Princess Grace Humanitarian Award 2015[12]
  • Top 20 of Ireland’s Greatest Women of All Time 2014
  • Keynote speaker at the first anniversary commemorations of the Japanese earthquake in Fukushima 2012
  • David Chow Humanitarian Award 2008
  • Robert Burns Humanitarian Award 2007
  • People’s Alliance candidate for the Irish Presidential Campaign 1997
  • European Person of the Year 1996
  • European Woman Laureate Award 1996
  • Irish Person of the Year 1996
  • First Irish woman elected to the Board of Directors of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva
  • Government appointee on the board of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)

Honorary Degrees:


Roche stood for the office of President of Ireland as a coalition candidate for the Labour Party, Democratic Left and the Green Party at the 1997 presidential election.[14] Roche came fourth out of five candidates with almost 7% of the vote. During the campaign there were accusations of bullying made by former staff and associates of the Chernobyl Children's Project against Roche.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Clifford, Graham. "Adi Roche - 'I was drowning but the children of Chernobyl rescued me'", Independent, 14 December 2014
  2. ^ a b Adi Roche - the early favourite, BBC News, 29 October 1997.
  3. ^ Kelleher, Olivia (17 March 2018). "Adi Roche set to be awarded Freedom of Cork city". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Chernobyl Children International home page".
  5. ^ "National Irish Visual Arts Library".
  6. ^ a b The 2015 World of Children Award Honorees
  7. ^ "Tipperary Peace Convention". Tipperary Peace Convention. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  8. ^ Ralph Riegel (21 August 2013). "Mandela, Clinton and Geldof among the former winners". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  9. ^ "Adi Roche and Ali Hewson receive Princess Grace Humanitarian Award". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Adi Roche's Freedom of Cork award dedicated to Chernobyl victims". Irish Examiner. 29 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Pride of Ireland 2016: Adi Roche says Chernobyl children still suffering from nuclear disaster 30 years on". Irish Mirror. 14 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Adi Roche and Ali Hewson receive Princess Grace Humanitarian Award". The Irish Times. 6 October 2015.
  13. ^ "UL Confers Highest Honour on Six Exceptional Individuals". University Of Limerick. 28 April 2016. Archived from the original on 21 November 2017.
  14. ^ Clarity, James F. (26 September 1997). "Irishwomen Find Niche (And It's Not in Kitchen)". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Dúirt Siad". An Phoblacht. 22 September 1997. Retrieved 5 February 2010.

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