By Irish Echo Staff
As promised, billionaire businessman Chuck Feeney has given it all away, and in his lifetime,
He has signed papers that dissolve his Atlantic Philanthropies foundation, a charitable entity which has provided more than $8 billion to worthy causes on both sides of the Atlantic over almost four decades.
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The donations include $1.3 billion to projects in the Republic of Ireland, and $570 million to projects in Northern Ireland.
New Jersey native Feeney signed the dissolution papers at his office in San Francisco in the presence of his wife Helga, and Christopher Oechsli, president and chief executive of Atlantic Philantrophies.
Atlantic Philanthropies, which dates to 1982, distributed 6,500 grants over 38 years with its last financial commitment made at the end of 2016. It has been in wind-up mode for a number of years, the Irish Times reported.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Atlantic Philanthropies has had a truly remarkable impact in Ireland over the past four decades. Chuck Feeney’s far-sighted vision, extraordinary generosity and selfless leadership has transformed the lives of many thousands of Irish people, young and old alike.
“In particular, its transformational impact on higher education and research… has left a powerful legacy to the nation and generations to come.”
In the Republic, and as reported by the Times, The University of Limerick Foundation received the highest grant aid at $181.5 million, followed by the Trinity Foundation at $162.1 million, Dublin City University Education Trust at $128.2 million, Cork University Foundation at $91.2 million, and Galway University Foundation at $79.5 million.
Other notable grants include $18.9 million to the Health Service Executive, $15.6 million to children’s charity Barnados, and $10.4 million to the Irish Hospice Foundation.
In 1984, Mr Feeney secretly transferred his shareholding in the company Duty Free Shoppers to The Atlantic Foundation, which later became The Atlantic Philanthropies. The foundation subsequently provided funding for projects in Ireland, Australia, Bermuda, Cuba, South Africa, the United States and Vietnam.
“If you give while living, the money goes to work quickly, everyone gets to see the action and the results, that’s what we’re all about,” Feeney said by way of explaining the way he went about giving all his money away.
As well as his business and philanthropic work, Feeney was also centrally involved in the search for peace in Northern Ireland being a member of the Irish delegation that traveled to the North in the 199os and effectively paved the way for President Bill clinton’s historic visit.
Gerry Adams delivers an appreciation of Chuck Feeney’s living legacy in his column in this week’s print edition of the Irish Echo.