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Family clinging to hope for missing Irish UN worker

The family of an Irish citizen missing in Haiti continue to cling to hope today that he may yet be found alive.

Andrew Grene (44) has been a key expert for the United Nations for several years and his last known whereabouts was the UN headquarters in Port au Prince which was destroyed by last Tuesday's earthquake.

He was believed to be with Hedi Annabi, the chief of the UN mission in Haiti, as they spoke with a high-ranking Chinese delegation when the earthquake struck. The body of Mr Annabi was recovered from the wreckage of the building on Saturday.

Youth

Mr Grene was a special assistant to Mr Annabi. Born in Chicago, he spent much of his youth on the family farm in Co Cavan at Derrycark, outside Belturbet. He went to Fairgreen school in Belturbet.

He has both Irish and American citizenship. His wife Jennifer, who is from Co Down, and their three children Patrick, Alex and Rosemont, have posted details of Andrew on the Red Cross website, seeking information about him.

Andrew's twin brother Gregory, a founder member of US-based traditional Irish band The Prodigals, also posted a message online, stating: "Seeking good news, please God, on my twin brother Andrew Grene, who works at MINUSTAH (the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti) and was in the meeting with Hedi Annabi, may he rest

in peace, when the quake hit."

Jessie Jones, who taught Andrew and Gregory in Fairgreen School, said they attended the school from March until the end of September each year when their father came to Ireland to run his farm.

"I knew Andrew had been working there but like everyone I was hoping and praying that he wasn't there when the earthquake struck," she said.

Brother

Andrew's brother, Nicholas, is a lecturer in Trinity College in Dublin. The family regularly returns to its home in Belturbet.

John McDonald, chairman of Belturbet Town Council, said the local community was praying for the Grene family.

Andrew's father, Professor David Grene, was a native of Donnybrook in Dublin who attended Trinity College and went on to become an acclaimed translator. He moved to the US and was a founding member of the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought with Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow.

Search

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that it was working together with the US State Department in the search.

"We are helping the US State Department with the search for an individual who has Irish and US citizenship," the spokesman said. A UN official said aid workers in Haiti were dealing with a disaster "like no other" in UN history because the country had been "decapitated".

Some 40 members of the UN staff are confirmed dead but that figure is expected to rise to more than 100.

aokeeffe@herald.ie