An Appreciation of Rodney Rice, former Chair of ActionAid Ireland

  • Date: 31/08/2021
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward
ActionAid Rodney Rice Board Chairman, Finance and Accountablity

The ActionAid team and Board would like to extend our sympathies to the family of the former Chairperson of our Board, Rodney Rice, who passed away on Sunday.

Rodney, a trailblazing journalist and broadcaster, served on the ActionAid Ireland Board for over seven years from 2011 to 2018. He was a Director and then Chairperson. We were and are very proud that Rodney chose to take-up this position with us and lend his name and considerable talents to our organisation.

Many of our supporters and friends will be familiar with Rodney, who hosted events like our 30th Anniversary event in 2013 and our annual Speech Writing Competition. A gifted and warm host, we were proud to have him lead such events. Rodney also wrote media pieces and conducted interviews on our behalf.

He did even more behind the scenes with ActionAid. He made himself available to build and develop many aspects of our organisation

Throughout his media career and long afterwards, Rodney was a consistent and unrelenting advocate for justice. He helped to shape the Irish consciousness about the rights of the oppressed.

He was popular with the team in Ireland, and with our colleagues around the world who he met at the annual general assembly. As well as being talented and generous with his time, he was a great raconteur, very personable and great company. And we will miss him very much.

Siobhán McGee, CEO of ActionAid Ireland from 2015 to July 2021, said:

“Rodney was appointed voluntary Chair of ActionAid Ireland’s board early in my tenure as CEO, and so from 2016 to 2018 we worked closely together to develop ActionAid’s agenda in Ireland, as well as engaging with international peers as part of ActionAid International, work which took us both to Cambodia, Mozambique, Myanmar and Greece.

Rodney was a force of nature. He cared passionately about human rights and social justice, unafraid to challenge or question inequities. Following his retirement from RTE in 2009 ActionAid Ireland was fortunate when he agreed to serve on the Board for what turned out to be two terms, the latter term as Chair.

As we spent time together I understood his deep rooted passion for social justice was equally shared with his wife Margo from their earliest days, and has been passed on to their children. His exposure to the apartheid regime in South Africa was very formative, as a journalist he covered those potent events from very close quarters and remained very committed and interested in that country’s progress.

It goes without saying that he was highly politically incisive. I saw him engage in international gatherings with ActionAid leaders from countries struggling to achieve even basic rights and social justice – among them were academics, senior NGO leaders, former politicians, journalists – people with whom he connected, deeply interested in their struggles. His knowledge of those countries’ historical and current political contexts was extensive, his curiosity undimmed.

Many people, myself included, grew up amid his work on radio and TV. In particular his commitment to bringing international development stories to Irish audiences through Worlds Apart on RTE Radio was far reaching and influential. The topics he covered seeped into our consciousness as listeners, and, I believe, helped inform and build a sense of global solidarity which was in turn reflected in Irish public policy on international development and co-operation.”

Karol Balfe, CEO of ActionAid Ireland added:

“We are grateful for the immense contribution that Rodney Rice made to ActionAid over his time as Director and then Chairperson. Though I didn’t personally work with him, he was clearly just a champion of social justice and dedicated time and energy on a voluntary basis to supporting ActionAid’s goals of ending poverty and promoting gender equality. His contribution will be felt for many years to come. All of our thoughts are with his family and friends. May he rest in peace.”

Rodney leaves a lasting legacy and we will endeavour to do him proud.

Our thoughts at this time are with his wife Margo, children Cian, Caitriona and Eoghan, and his extended family and many friends.

May he rest in peace.

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