Rector is hanging up a sandbag instead of a stocking for Christmas


by Tom McCullough

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A NEW tradition began in Limerick this week when a Church of Ireland rector hung a sandbag on his mantlepiece instead of a Christmas stocking, to raise awareness of the hunger crisis in flood-hit South Sudan.

With his sandbag Christmas stocking, Very Rev Niall Sloane, who is rector of Limerick City Parish and Dean of Limerick, is giving his backing to Christian Aid Ireland’s Christmas appeal, which focuses on the hunger crisis in South Sudan.

The Church of Ireland is one of Christian Aid’s sponsoring churches and Dean Sloane is an enthusiastic supporter of its work to end extreme poverty.

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Normally deployed in flood prevention, the sandbag is being used as a reminder that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change is a powerful driver of poverty and hunger, especially in flood-prone countries such as South Sudan.

In October, South Sudan saw its worst flooding in nearly 60 years, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to abandon their homes. Unusually heavy rainfall in recent months caused the Nile to burst its banks, leaving huge swathes of rich farmland under water. As well as destroying homes, the flooding killed livestock and destroyed crops, worsening a food crisis which has left 2.4 million people at risk of falling into famine.

Christian Aid is working through local partners to respond to the hunger and flooding crisis in South Sudan. The charity is providing emergency life-saving support including blankets, mosquito nets, water purification tablets and cash to flood-affected families as well as cash, seeds, farming tools and fishing kits to families struggling to get enough food to eat.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked Dean Sloane and all his parishioners in Limerick city who support the charity’s work to relieve poverty in South Sudan and around the world.

“Through his support for our work, Dean Sloane is standing in solidarity with people living in desperate situations. This year, his ‘sandbag stocking’ is helping to raise awareness of the impact that flooding is having on an already terrible hunger crisis in South Sudan.”

To support Christian Aid’s Christmas appeal, visit or call 01 496 7040 to make a telephone donation.