For more than a year, Colm Smullen has worked tirelessly with his son Dara and colleagues Grace Kennedy, Joby bRedmond Anna Medards and Henry McEntee to provide assistance to Ukraine refugees fleeing the war. Since March 2022, Colm has used his van to travel back and forth to Ukraine – delivering hundreds of thousands of euro in aid such as medical supplies and generators to those in need. During this time, Colm also met Grace Kennedy who had been working to bring thousands of Ukrainians out of the conflict. Though this collaboration they have purchased and arranged more than 6,500 flights to bring people to safety. As the challenges of the conflict have developed, Colm and his colleagues have continued to deliver aid while also shifting their attention to the support of those seeking temporary accommodation in Ireland. Using Facebook and personal contacts to find informal accommodation, the group has found homes for roughly 7,500 Ukrainian refugees to date
The Irish Red Cross is honoured to grant this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Mary Lawlor, one of Ireland’s leading advocates for human rights defenders at risk. Mary is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for which she was appointed for a three-year term from May 2020 and to which she was reappointed earlier this month for a second three-year term. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Business and Human Rights in the School of Business of Trinity College Dublin. A key element of Mary’s work has been her role as the founder and Executive Director (2001-2016) of Front Line Defenders which actively works to protect those who work non-violently to uphold the human rights of others as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She is also a former Director of the Irish branch of Amnesty International where she led the organisation from 1988-2000. Throughout all of her working life the focus of Mary’s career has been the protection of human rights defenders. The inspiring and courageous work by Mary Lawlor in defending the crucial role and selfless efforts of human rights defenders at risk has never been more relevant or important. The Irish Red Cross recognises that human rights defenders are critical to the advancement of civil and just societies and for this reason we have chosen her as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
RUBY O’KELLY is a 17 year old singer and songwriter from Ballyjamesduff, County Cavan. When she was 12 years old, she wrote and composed an original song entitled ‘You Won’t Stop Me’, to highlight the issues of bullying and travelled throughout Ireland to speak on the topic at schools, and Anti-Bullying events – including the ‘World Anti-Bullying Summit’ in City Hall, Dublin. During the pandemic, Ruby realised that her uncle, who is nonverbal, had lost communication with her due to his vulnerability and need to isolate from COVID. With this, she began to do concerts for him on Zoom and quickly expanded her performances to include her uncle’s friends and elderly people who were cut off from the community as a result of the pandemic. Throughout this time she also hosted live and virtual fundraising events raising thousands of euro for ‘Pieta House’, ‘Aoibheann’s Pink Tie’, ‘Focus Ireland’, ‘Sleep Out Cavan’, ‘CAPS’ and others. .
NOTEWORTHY.IE JOURNALISTS MARIA DELANEY, GEELA GARCIA AND LOUISE LAWLESS have been nominated for their investigative series entitled Hands on Deck, which exposed the ongoing exploitation of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry. The team undertook a six-month investigation in Ireland and the Philippines and found “an across the board failure” by the justice system with regard to the trafficking of migrant and undocumented fishers who were ‘ignored’ by a recent government review of a controversial work permission scheme. The six-month investigation had farreaching impacts, including an invitation to Maria Delaney to provide an Oireachtas briefing. The findings were addressed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who commented that the examples of abuse he had seen were “not far off modern day slavery”. Maria Delaney (project lead) is the editor of Noteworthy, an award-winning, crowdfunded investigative platform from The Journal. Geela Garcia, based in the Philippines, is a freelance multimedia journalist and peasant advocate. Louise Lawless is a freelance journalist and solicitor.
RAJAT MAHESHWARI of Waterford is passionately committed to bridging the gap between those in need and those who can provide assistance. With the motto “Change the world – one small deed at a time” Rajat spearheaded the development of Finedeeds.com – a digital platform that promotes giving and volunteerism in the workplace while also tracking the impact of their support to charity partners. In recent years, Rajat has led a team of tech developers to bring Finedeeds workplace philanthropy solutions forward. When the war in Ukraine started in 2022 he launched a basic functionality of the platform so that refugees crossing the Ukrainian border could get food, water, and basic hygienic items. Soon more Irish charities joined and more projects were launched on the Finedeeds platform. According to Rajat – “My vision encompasses a more compassionate, inclusive, and connected world, forged by the power of goodness networking.” .
February 2022, REVOLUT launched its Ukraine Appeal and announced a seven-day initiative to match every donation made up to £1.5 million. With the support of over half a million customers in more than 50 countries, Revolut raised over €10 million in support of the international Red Cross movement’s work to assist those impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. At the same time Revolut offered emergency payment services to all refugees fleeing Ukraine – easing many requirements and fees and enabling thousands to quickly and easily access their savings. Vlad Yatsenko, Co-founder and CTO of Revolut said: “With the war in Ukraine displacing more than two million people already, we felt it was imperative to help those most affected by providing a service that gives them easy, quick access to their money.”