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This Irish-American billionaire has made the biggest philanthropic donation in Irish history

The money will go towards research into dementia.

Chuck Feeney
Chuck Feeney
Image: NUI Galway

IRISH-AMERICAN PHILANTHROPIST Chuck Feeney has made a major financial contribution to finding a cure for dementia.

Atlantic Philanthropies, the organisation that he founded, will be giving €138.4 million to Trinity College Dublin and the University of California, San Francisco to allow them to jointly establish the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI).

The sum of money is the biggest philanthropic donation in Irish history.

The grant will be revealed later today when Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks at the announcement in Trinity College Dublin during a live link-up with the University of California.

How big a problem is dementia?

Currently the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland (ASI) estimates that there are around 48,000 dementia sufferers in Ireland.

In September a report released by Alzheimer’s Research UK described the problem with dementia as a “looming national health crisis” and said that one in three people born in the UK in 2015 would suffer from the condition.

The ASI predicts that the number of dementia sufferers in Ireland could rise to 132,000 by 2041.

The condition affects around 48 million people internationally.

Source: Trinity College Dublin/YouTube

Who is Chuck Feeney? 

While Chuck Feeney founded Atlantic Philanthropies, it is currently helmed by president and CEO Christopher Oechsli, who has worked with the organisation for the past 17 years.

Feeney has already been in the headlines a couple of times this year.

Back in March he featured in a report by The Irish Times into donations made to Sinn Féin’s US fundraising arm Friends of Sinn Féin – when it was revealed that he had donated around $780,000 (€730,000) over 20 years.

He also faced scrutiny in the run up to the marriage referendum in May when Senator Ronan Mullen claimed that Feeney had provided significant funding to the Yes campaign.

Read: Sinn Féin says the money it got from Martin Sheen and others ‘is not a secret’

Also: Ten people to be first recipients of Presidential Awards for Irish abroad

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