Ethiopia plane crash: Irishman who died ‘wanted to save the world’

Ethiopia plane crash: Irishman who died ‘wanted to save the world’

Michael Ryan who worked on the UN's World Food Programme was on-board the plane.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The mother of an Irishman killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash has paid tribute to him saying he was committed to making a difference to people's lives.

UN aid worker and engineer Michael Ryan was killed after the plane crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.

Mr Ryan's mother Christine said that her son "wanted to save the world".

He was employed by the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), which is a leading humanitarian organisation delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with impoverished communities to improve nutrition.



The married father-of-two, who was originally from Lahinch in Co Clare, had relocated to Rome to work at WFP headquarters.

His wife Naoise and children were due to move out to Rome in the coming months.

Speaking to RTE Morning Ireland, Christine said: "He's an amazing person, we can't believe it and we can't come to terms with this.

"His wife and children are just devastated.

"He was a very enthusiastic person, he had a great vision and he believed in engineering and in putting people first."


'Deepest sympathies' 

Rescue workers outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 11, where Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 crashed. 

The plane was en route from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to Nairobi and crashed on the eve of a UN Environment Assembly in the Kenyan capital.

Several WFP staff were on the flight, ahead of this week's conference.

Mr Ryan was a global deputy chief engineer with the WFP's engineering division.

Mrs Ryan said she knew he was flying to Nairobi but didn't know he was on the flight that crashed until his wife contacted her.

Ireland's President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute to Mr Ryan.

"I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the family of Michael Ryan, whose work in humanitarian assistance for the World Food Programme brought him onto the flight," he said.

"This tragedy affects so many, with passengers from more than 30 countries and from several international organisations were on board the flight.

"On my own behalf and behalf of the Irish people, I send my deepest sympathies to President Sahle-Work Zewde, to the families of the victims and to the people of Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian community who live here in Ireland."