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Justin Kilcullen to step down as director of Trócaire

By editor - 18 April, 2013

Justin Kilcullen will step down as Executive Director of Trócaire in October 2013 after serving 20 years in that post and a total of 32 years with Trócaire.

The man who lead Trócaire for the last twenty years is to retire. Justin Kilcullen leaves the relief agency having worked twenty years as Executive Director and a further twelve as Africa Programme Officer and later as its representative in Laos.  He is to quit his position in October 2013.

Speaking to CatholicIreland, Mr Kilcullen said that in his thirty two years working with the organisation he had seen many changes and improvements.

“You always have to be positive.  The old countries that were underdeveloped, are now developing  and some have a seat at the G22 table.  Figures on life expectancy, girls’ education, child health, maternal mortality have all improved.”   While nearly a billion people were suffering from hunger, he said,  then it was a billion out of a total world population of 5.5 bn.  “Now it is a billion out of a 7 billion population.”

He remarked on how at last Africa was seeing some economic growth (even off a low base), and how half of its countries had had democratic elections. “It is an advance on the old dictatorships.”

 He was particularly hopeful following the election of Pope Francis.  His leadership will go beyond the Church,” Mr Kilcullen told CatholicIreland.   With the Millennium Development Goals coming to an end in 2015, he said it would be important to have a leader like Pope Francis  “who can critique  some of the economic models that might be foisted on us – like leaving everything to  the market economy or private enterprise”.

Addressing his frustrations, Mr Kilcullen said he was disappointed that the trade deals (with developing countries) had not been completed.  “It is short sighted because a thriving community in the developing world offers opportunities to everyone.”

Bishop John Kirby, Chairman of Trócaire, who announced Mr Kilcullen’s departure, paid tribute to Mr Kilcullen’s “heart and professionalism” which made him an “outstanding leader for the organisation”.

“Driven by a personal conviction, he has devoted time, energy and huge commitment to work with people in some of the poorest countries in the world to improve their lives, while campaigning tirelessly in Ireland and internationally on their behalf,” he said adding that the Catholic Church in Ireland had benefitted “enormously from his dedication to the poor of the developing world”.

In response, Mr Kilcullen said it had been a privilege to work for Trócaire for more than 30 years. He said he was “humbled and inspired” by the commitment of so many people he had met to end global poverty.   He also paid tribute to generosity and “innate kindness” of people in Ireland who support Trócaire’s work each year.  “Their compassion and calls for justice are appreciated by poor families all over the developing world.”

Asked by CatholicIreland about his plans, he said his ambition was to make the next six months, the best six months of  his 32 years in Trocaire. “Then I’ll take my chances with the Lord.”

by Susan Gately