John O'Shea (humanitarian)

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John O'Shea
Born 1944 (age 73–74)
Limerick, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Education CBC Monkstown Park
Alma mater University College Dublin
Occupation Founder & former CEO of the charitable organisation
GOAL (1977-), former Sports Journalist
Known for Prominent humanitarian in Ireland
Home town Dublin
Website GOAL website

John O'Shea (born 1944) is founder and former CEO of GOAL, an Irish non-governmental organization devoted to assisting the poorest of the poor. His first career was as a sports journalist and GOAL retains significant links to the sporting community, especially in Ireland.

O'Shea was shortlisted in the top 40 of 2010 RTÉ poll to find Ireland's Greatest person.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

O'Shea was born in County Limerick in 1944 and lived in Westport and in Cork. His father, a banker, moved the family to Dublin when he was age 11. He was schooled in CBC Monkstown and was a sports fanatic playing rugby at school and a keen golfer and tennis player in Monkstown. O'Shea remains a keen fan of rugby, tennis and golf, playing tennis every Saturday and also giving opinions on Irish sports to radio and newspapers.[2][3] O'Shea went on to study Economics, English and Philosophy at University College Dublin and had a career as a sports journalist in the Evening Press for many years after meeting Tim Pat Coogan whilst studying.[2][3]


In 1977, he began his charitable organisation with a 10,000 punts donation for a feeding project in Calcutta after which O'Shea founded GOAL.[4] The charity has a major sporting backbone. John McEnroe, Pat Cash and Gordon D'Arcy are amongst the sportstars to have become "Goalies"(volunteers).[2][5]

In its 36 years of operation, GOAL has distributed €790 million and has had over 1,400 volunteers. It has operated in over 50 countries worldwide.[4] O'Shea sites watching the "Goalies" working around the world as the best part of his years involved in the charity. O'Shea believes that governments of developed countries should be far more involved in the distribution of aid. Speaking on a tribute to his work in GOAL in 2007 on Ireland foremost chat show-The Late Late Show, O'Shea said;



In 2012, O'Shea was asked to slow down by his doctor.[7] In November 2012, former Fianna Fáil politician, Barry Andrews, was appointed chief executive of GOAL.[8]


A sometimes controversial figure, O'Shea is known for his forthright public statements, particularly when he feels political correctness is getting in the way of assisting those in need, and a hands on approach to tackling poverty related issues. He has been criticised by some in the INGO community for advocating military invasion and intervention in Sudan by the US, UK and NATO, under the guise of humanitarian intervention.[9][10][11] He has also been critical of perceived inaction by the UN in humanitarian crisis' in conflict zones [12] and of governmental aid agencies in giving aid directly to allegedly corrupt African governments. John O'Shea has advocated using private companies to provide aid and military forces to directly force aid on countries. Most other Irish Aid agencies disagree stating that every type of aid channels must be used and have described his policies as re-colonisation.[13]

His stance has drawn praise with the Vice Chancellor of the Open University which awarded him an honorary doctorate, John Naughton stating; "“He [John O’Shea] says openly that Western aid ought not to be channelled to governments that are proven to be either corrupt or brutal – and he is happy to name those regimes. Plain speaking of this order is not usually a way to win friends and influence people. But it has influenced us, which is why we honour him today."[14]

Additionally his salary has garnered criticisms in some quarters.


O'Shea's list of achievements and awards include: the People of the Year Awards 1987 and 1992, The Ballygowan Outstanding Achievement Award 1988, MIR Award 1992, The Late Late Show Tribute 1995 and 2007, Texaco Outstanding Achievement Award 1995 and the Tipperary International Peace Award 2003, Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2005.

In 2008, he was conferred with an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Notre Dame in recognition of his work.[15]

Current Work/Life[edit]

John O'Shea currently gives talks at NUI Galway and interpersonal skills class UCD. He has become involved with the university for a few years where he shares his story. He is an advocate for social(non-profit) entrepreneurs and tries to convince students to go down that path.[16]


The Sunday Independent newspaper reported in 2010 that he drew a then annual salary of €98,320 as acting CEO of GOAL.[17]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Shortlist to find Ireland's greatest person
  2. ^ a b c[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c "30th anniversary of GOAL". Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Live 8 logic attracts criticism". BBC News. 10 June 2005. Archived from the original on 8 January 2008. 
  7. ^ "Succession plan in place at GOAL: Chairman". RTÉ News. 6 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "RTE News". News website. 8 November 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2016 – via 
  9. ^ - "The UK and US Must Immediately Take Unilateral Action to Prevent Further Tragedy in Darfur" 18 September 2006 Archived 9 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ - GOAL USA - "NATO's Reluctance to Deploy Troops to Darfur Region is a Missed Opportunity" 17 February 2006 Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "GOAL is calling on the Bush Government to be prepared to send in the US army as a last resort." John O'Shea. GOAL: D-Day for the UN, 29 August 2006 Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ - GOAL: D-Day for the UN, 29 August 2006 Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ AID AT GUNPOINT? John O'Shea's dangerous simpliticies, 31 December 2005
  14. ^ GOAL 2008 Annual Report
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Burke, Roisin (2 May 2010). "How Much Does Giving Really Cost?". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
France Marie-Claire Noah
Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Arthur Ashe