Homelessness advocates and Holocaust survivor among those nominated for Tipperary
Peace Award

Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental.
A short list of nominees for the 2014 Tipperary International Peace Award has been announced by Tipperary Peace Convention.

A short list of nominees for the 2014 Tipperary International Peace Award has been announced by Tipperary Peace Convention.

The award recipient will be announced in the coming days and will be presented with the International Peace Award in Tipperary on a date to be confirmed in 2015.

Included are three advocates on behalf of the homeless, a Holocaust survivor, the head of the United Nations, a Burmese human rights activist and a worldwide medical care agency.

Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, Fr. Peter McVerry and Bro. Kevin Crowley are included on the shortlist.

The death of a homeless man in the shadow of the Dáil put the homelessness crisis firmly on the political agenda in 2014. However some campaigners have worked tirelessly with this vulnerable section of society for decades, without little recognition or support.

Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy has been a fearless campaigner for the homeless. She co-founded Focus Ireland in 1985 and is Life President of the organisation.

Fr. Peter McVerry set up the Peter McVerry Trust in 1983 with the aim of reducing homelessness and the harm caused by drug misuse and social disadvantage. During this time he has campaigned tirelessly for their rights.

Bro. Kevin Crowley founded The Capuchin Day Centre in Bow Street, Dublin in 1969 to help relieve the hardship endured by homeless people and to help those in need. When it opened first the Centre fed 50 people a day and now the number has risen to well in excess of 1,000.

Also on the shortlist is Irish-based Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental.

Tomi, who has lived in Dublin since the 1960s, marrying here and raising a family, has become an inspirational figure by travelling to schools around Ireland to relate the devastation of what happened in those black years.

He is the author of the book, I Was A Boy In Belsen and his story was featured in the RTE Documentary ‘Close to Evil’ which related how Tomi came close to meeting one of his jailers over 60 years after the Holocaust.

The shortlist includes the Burmese human rights lawyer Robert San Aung.

San Aung has been imprisoned a total of six times since 1974 for his political activism.

Based in Rangoon/Yangon, he is an active member of the pro-democracy movement, which has left him vulnerable to harassment, prosecution and imprisonment. The constant intimidation and harassment of Robert and his family means that he is now separated from them. In May 2014, he spent a month in Ireland as part of the Rest-and-Respite programme run by Frontline Defenders.

Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also makes the shortlist.

MSF currently works in almost 70 countries around the world, providing emergency medical care where the need is greatest. At the core of MSF’s identity since it was established in 1971, is a commitment to independence, neutrality and impartiality.

One of the greatest challenges this past year for MSF has been responding to the Ebola virus. The Ebola outreach team is multi-disciplinary, made up of nurses, health promotion officers, water and sanitation experts and, of course, sprayers.

They take care of the entire community, both the living and the dead - transporting suspected Ebola cases to the treatment centre, disinfecting the homes of Ebola patients, providing information on how those left behind can protect themselves, and safely and respectfully removing the dead.

The eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is the final person on the shortlist.

Born in the Republic of Korea in June 1944, the Secretary General’s priorities have been to mobilise world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the organisation itself.

The Harvard Foundation named him as the 2014 Humanitarian of the Year. His leadership of the United Nations along with his compassionate initiatives on human trafficking, climate change, and Ebola, all attest to his significant humanitarian contributions.

Previous recipients of the Tipperary International Peace Award include former South African President, the late Nelson Mandela; former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev; he late Senator Gordon Wilson from Enniskillen, former US President Bill Clinton, former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese and her husband Senator Martin McAleese, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who later went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and last year’s recipient Dr. Richard Haass.