Pace Henry McDonald RIP, a warrior for Ireland and for peace…

There’s a few things I was tempted to blog about tomorrow, but this is an occasion I would least have wanted to mark. Henry McDonald, late of The Observer (and The Guardian), has died.

Henry was the first mainstream journalist to pick up our press release on the report that launched Slugger as a serious watering hole for Northern Irish politics. I wasn’t entirely happy with the angle he took, but then Henry and I rarely agreed.

When we later met later in the John Hewitt pub in Donegall Street, I found him a combination of broadsheet intelligence and tabloid curiosity for what underlay the criminality many of us are too happy to dismiss as the price of peace.

He was restless. He got in the faces of those with power who could not stand his upstart impetuous and driving  need to question their motives for settling for anything less than decency with neighbours and fellow citizens.

He was human. Flawed. Passionate. And (far too often) wrong. Henry and I had issues on occasions, but I loved his (appropriately) troubled soul. As a son of the Markets he knew the excess of the Troubles had remarkably flimsy justification, and he died protesting it.

His restlessness reminded us of our conjoining humanity in the face of many weak denials of post Agreement reality. He never gave up on the dream of a better (non sectarian, post Troubles) Ireland. And nor should we.

I would like to have ended traditionally with the usual “Ní Bheidh A Leithéid Ann Arís”. But in fact I hope there are far more Henrys to come.

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