Senator Lawless Urges Help to End Potato Disease

Former Irish Senator Billy Lawless urged the Irish and Irish Diaspora to donate to help end the potato disease which triggered The Great Famine in the 1840s, and which is still causing suffering in the developing world.
Lawless—Ireland’s first Senator for the Diaspora representing emigrants and the Irish community around the world—joined with Robert F. Kennedy’s son, Chris Kennedy, to spearhead the effort, called End The Blight ([](

“As a Galway native who immigrated to Chicago and started a business more than twenty years ago, I learned first hand about the experience of the Irish living overseas,” Lawless said. “And I was truly humbled to learn the stories of so many of our forebears who left Ireland to escape disease and starvation in the 1840s and 1850s.”

“As we approach St. Patrick’s Day, it seems especially fitting for me to join Robert F. Kennedy’s son Chris and other leaders in giving back and working to end the same problem that afflicted our ancestors,” Lawless said.

The potato late blight pathogen destroyed Irish crops for years, leading to the deaths of a million Irish people and the flight of another million souls to the U.S. and other shores.

Their hardship during the Great Famine, also known as the Gorta Mór in the Irish language, reshaped Ireland as a nation and changed its history forever. It also made the Irish people among the most giving in the world, committed to fighting hunger and disease across the globe.

“Today, late blight still destroys the potato crops grown by African farmers who are fighting each day to preserve their families’ future.”

Lawless is working with Chicago-area non-profit research organization, the 2Blades Foundation, which is working with scientists who have developed a new potato variety that is fully resistant to late blight.

Now, they’re trying to get this new potato ready for African farmers to grow and sell in their communities—using less land, water, and chemicals.

Lawless urged the Irish and Irish diaspora in America to help these African families build a better life for themselves and their communities. He noted that 100% of any donation will go to this cause—not one dollar to administrative overhead.

“There’s no better way to honor those who died and emigrated from Ireland during the Great Famine than to give all we can to prevent potato blight from causing hunger and pain again. Join us in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by helping ensure greater food security for all,” he said.

For more information or to contribute, please visit
(3) non-profit organization, and your donation is tax-deductible.