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At a glance: Ireland

Gabriel Byrne celebrates Mother's Day with UNICEF Ireland, highlighting HIV issues

© UNICEF Ireland/2006
UNICEF Ambassador Gabriel Byrne with Christine Dulay and Aaron Williams at the UNICEF Ireland/Conrad Dublin Mother's Day Lunch in Dublin.

By Julianne Savage

DUBLIN, Ireland, 24 March 2006 – Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, an Ambassador for Ireland's National Committee for UNICEF, was the special guest at this year's UNICEF Ireland/Conrad Dublin Mother's Day Lunch.  

Organizers of the lunch hoped to raise more than $60,000 for UNICEF Ireland's ‘Safe Motherhood’ campaign. All money raised will go directly to UNICEF programmes preventing transmission of HIV from mothers to their children throughout Africa. In the past eight years, over $480,000 has been raised by this annual event, which is sponsored by the Conrad Dublin Hotel.

The courage of mothers

Since his appointment as an Ambassador, Mr. Byrne has worked to help UNICEF Ireland highlight the plight of children affected by HIV/AIDS.

During his time filming the movie ‘Wah-Wah’, the actor witnessed the horrendous impact of HIV/AIDS on children in the Southern African kingdom of Swaziland, which has a population of just 1 million. Approximately 39 per cent of the population in Swaziland is living with HIV, including some 16,000 children under the age of 15. And the kind of crisis that Mr. Byrne witnessed there is of course replicated in countries throughout Africa, as well as Asia, Eastern Europe and other regions.

Speaking about the reality of the disease for many of the women he met in Africa, Mr. Byrne said: "I still cannot fathom how difficult it was for the women I met to find out that they were HIV-positive. It is such a courageous undertaking in countries where there is still considerable stigma about the disease. They got tested to ensure that their unborn babies would have a chance of life by being born free of the virus."



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