A man of many talents
Published 18/12/2012 | 05:00
LIKE many others, The Punt was saddened to learn of the death of Dr Donal Nevin over the weekend.
The Limerick man was an unusual character in Ireland; a trade union activist, who was also an astute student of Irish economic history with a strong sense of social responsibility and social justice.
He did not just represent the interests of his members but also represented the interests of the country and those too downtrodden to have a union.
Dr Nevin was a man of many parts – a leading light in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, who was also involved in organisations such as Combat Poverty, the Irish Council of People with Disabilities, the European Social Fund Committee and the Higher Education Authority.
A former civil servant, he also acted as a trustee of the Bewley Community; a governor of the Irish Hospice Foundation; a patron of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement; honorary president of the Irish Labour History Society; and Treasurer of the People's College Adult Education Organisation. All good causes.
All this would be enough to fill several lives, but Dr Nevin was also a noted historian, researching in the still neglected field of the left's role in history.
His 1967 Thomas Davis lecture on the post-Treaty fortunes of the Labour Party is still a classic, while his two-volume collection of James Connolly's works will doubtless become a classic. While his energy will be missed, the recently founded Nevin Institute will give us some food for thought in the years ahead.