Gerry Adams, the former President of Sinn Féin, has paid tribute to Chuck Feeney, the Irish American philanthropist who died on Monday, October 9 at the age of 92.
“I am deeply saddened at the news of the death of my good friend Chuck Feeney," Adams said in a statement.
"I want to extend my sincerest condolences and solidarity to Helga his wife and the Feeney family.
"Chuck was an extraordinary human being whose kindness and vision brought hope and joy to millions. Through Atlantic Philanthropies, he gave away billions to those working in the field of civil liberties, health, community development, and education.
"Along with the late Bill Flynn, Bruce Morrison, Joe Jamison, and Niall O’Dowd, he was part of the Connolly House group which played a pivotal role in creating the conditions for the peace process.
"In the decades since then, Chuck has remained steadfast and committed to the Irish peace process ever since.
"Chuck was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. A very private man who has always shunned the spotlight and who was totally committed to our efforts to build peace.
"Chuck’s philosophy was straightforward – if you give while living you get to see the results. It’s about making real and tangible change in peoples’ lives.
"Chuck’s efforts, his generosity and solidarity over many years, touched many millions and will continue to do so into the future."
Former Congressman Bruce Morrison also mourned Feeney, saying: "I feel so grateful to have known Chuck Feeney and having been befriended by him. In a world of takers, he was the giver of all time. He gave with passion and commitment, he analyzed everything, but in the end he gave with his heart.
"Without Chuck, the Irish Peace Process would not have happened. Quietly, behind the scenes, he provided the glue and the resources in the places it was needed, in places most others feared to tread. He never wanted credit, he wanted results.
"On his projects and in his presence, you felt compelled to do better than your best. He always did. When most people would not talk to Sinn Fein about peace and ceasefire, he stepped up and provided funds for their shift to politics. He funded the work of the Connolly House group that provided the communications that drew the White House in and gave Albert Reynolds confidence to move forward. Many others were helpful to reaching the Good Friday Agreement. He was one of the few who was indispensable.
"All the generous billionaires that we have (and we could use many more to join the giving while living crowd) owe their inspiration to Chuck Feeney. 'There are no pockets in a shroud,' he liked to say. And he took his own advice.
"He lived a life of great success. All things he did, he did well. But what he did best was to give all that he could accumulate away to make the lives of others better.
"He leaves an unfillable hole in the hearts of those of us who were honored to play a small role in his extraordinary journey.
Feeney was born in New Jersey and had roots in Co Fermanagh. A believer in the 'giving while living' philosophy, the Irish American gave away more than $8 billion, mainly through his Atlantic Philanthropies, in his lifetime.
Both Ireland and Northern Ireland received major investments from Feeney.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that through Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney "contributed to peace and reconciliation in Ireland, championed equality and improved third-level education dramatically.
"He also helped to change attitudes to the LGBT community.
"All he did, he did quietly never seeking fame, credit or even thanks.
"He was a very special person and light for others."
All he did, he did quietly never seeking fame, credit or even thanks.
He was a very special person and light for others.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) October 9, 2023
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said Feeney's "vision, generosity and selfless leadership transformed the lives of people on the island of Ireland, north and south, young and old, through investment in education and community.”
It was a great honour to work with him, transforming Ireland’s third level research capacity.
He was a pioneer in the world of philanthropy.
Ní bheidh do leithéad arís ann. 2/2— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) October 9, 2023
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins said Feeney was "a great friend of Ireland and its people."
Higgins, who presented Feeney with the Presidential Distinguished Service Award in 2012, added: "Through his selfless commitment to so many important causes, Chuck Feeney’s work was founded on the core principles of inclusivity, participation and fairness.
"He has left a deep and lasting effect on the lives of so many people in our country, providing opportunities for participation and improving conditions within our society."
In September 2012, the universities of Ireland, North and South, jointly conferred an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) on Feeney for his remarkable contribution to Irish society, and in particular to the universities.
Upon Feeney's death, the University of Limerick noted that through Atlantic Philanthropies, Feeney gifted in the region of €150m to the UL Foundation, which has been transformational to the campus, the city, and the wider region.
University of Limerick President Professor Kerstin Mey said: “As the son of Irish American parents, maybe it is no surprise that over €1 billion of philanthropic support went to Ireland, and UL has been one of the main beneficiaries.
"At its simplest, the University of Limerick campus, over 18,000 students and 2,000 staff would not have been possible were it not for Chuck Feeney’s generosity.”
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey has paid tribute to Chuck Feeney.
“I want to offer my sympathy on behalf of the institution to his family and to celebrate a truly extraordinary legacy that he leaves behind as an inspiration to all.”October 9, 2023
Feeney also contributed €175 million to Dublin City University (DCU).
Prof Daire Keogh, President of DCU, said: “Chuck Feeney’s extraordinary and transformative contribution to DCU, to Irish higher education and to Ireland as a whole simply cannot be overstated.
"His unparalleled generosity transformed the landscape of our campuses and his legacy will continue to benefit our students and our academic community for decades to come.
"By choosing to donate his wealth during his lifetime, Mr Feeney not merely demonstrated the power of giving but set an example which he hoped others would copy.
"By living his values, he helped to create a brighter future and a better society for the people of Ireland, north and south."