This week I attended functions marking important occasions for three great Irishmen. On Monday last, there was a reception and dinner at the Darndale Hilton Hotel to mark the retirement of Padraic White from the chairpersonship of the Northside Partnership. Since he arrived in Coolock in 1990 to assist community activists, like myself, Padraic has played a hugely valuable role in a host of local projects and initiatives. He always gave freely of his time and with C.E.O., Ms. Marian Vickers and her staff established the Northside Partnership as perhaps the model local development agency in Ireland, pioneering many new approaches to training, education, job placement and small business set-up. Padraic of course continues to serve as Chairperson of the Coolock Development Council.
On Tuesday, I attended the launch of my colleague, Michael D. Higgin’s new book, a collection of essays entitled, ‘Causes for Concern’. Michael gave a typical highly stimulating speech outling the genesis of many of the essays as articles from his column in Hot Press magazine. Declan Kiberd presided over the occasion and gave an entertaining account of Michael’s earlier public career. The common thread in all the essays is Michael’s rights based approach to every political issue, also clearly evident over the years in all his Dail and P.L.P. contributions.
Later on Tuesday, I attended a function to mark the 45 years spent in Dail Eireann by another colleague, Leas Ceann Comhairle, Seamus Pattison T.D. The function was a surprise organised by Seamus’ Labour colleagues and was fairly unique not only for Seamus’ astonishing 45 (almost 46) year record but also because of the attendance of three Ceann Comhairles. Besides Seamus himself, Dr. Rory O’Hanlon and Sean Treacy were also present. Seamus’ amazing record will likely never be equalled (given steadily falling political longevity). He later entertained the company present with many interesting and funny anecdotes from his long representation of Carlow-Kilkenny in Dail Eireann.