Former Equality Authority chief praised as a 'pioneer'
NIALL Crowley, former chief executive of the Equality Authority, was hailed as "a pioneer" by Eamon Gilmore last night.
The Labour leader was speaking at the launch of Mr Crowley's book, 'Empty Promises: Bringing the Equality Authority to Heel' in Waterstones bookshop on Dawson Street in Dublin.
A large number of guests had gathered to support the man who hit the headlines in December 2008 when he resigned in protest at the halving of the authority's budget. Among those in attendance were Dublin Lord Mayor Emer Costello, Senators Ivana Bacik and David Norris and Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan.
The book recounts the history of the authority and describes the events that led to Mr Crowley's resignation and those of six members of the board, and also details the tensions that existed between the body and the Department of Justice during his nine years in the position.
"There's something about a politician launching a book called Empty Promises -- it sounds like a rather unfortunate title for a manifesto", Mr Gilmore joked.
He praised the book which, he remarked,"ended up with Niall taking the rather unusual step of resigning as chief executive of a state agency on a point of principle".
In his own speech Niall Crowley admitted that many people had quizzed him on his purpose in writing the book, and their theories "broke down into two strands: one was the strand that suggested the revenge motive; the other was the strand that suggested the therapy motive," he said.
But he said that what inspired him to write the book "was the extraordinary vulnerability of the Equality Authority to attack and to denigration. What struck me was how could a strong, a necessary and an effective institution be taken down so quickly.
"And I felt there was a need to document that," he added.
He said that "an independent and effective equality authority is needed by society", calling the present "a time of backlash against equality when a champion for equality is needed more than ever. The deafening silence that is there in the space that was the Equality Authority represents a terrible defeat".
He ended by describing his sudden resignation as "a big leap into the unknown" and paid tribute to his partner Melanie Reidy and their two sons Liam and Lorcan "for taking that leap with me, without looking back".
Full interview with niall crowley: tomorrow's weekend review