Friday 28 October 2016

President Higgins pays tribute to late Irish Independent columnist James Downey

Published 21/04/2016 | 08:26

One of Ireland's most distinguished journalists James Downey has died.

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Mr Downey, who was an Irish Independent columnist and former deputy editor at the Irish Times, died peacefully at Blackrock Clinic, Co Dublin yesterday.

President Michael D Higgins has sent condolences to his family.

In a statement the President said: "It is with sadness that I have learned of the death of James Downey."

"He will be remembered as one of Ireland's most committed journalists and editors and as having made a lasting imprint on journalism through his deep knowledge of the world of news and public affairs."

"In his career as a journalist in Leitrim and Dublin, James Downey showed a continuing concern for the public interest and transparency. He was driven by a strong belief in the power of information and the need for critical analysis to further political accountability."

Sabina and I extend our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Moira, his daughters Rachel and Vanessa, his siblings and family and his large circle of friends."

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described James Downey as “a journalist of formidable intellect, style and wit who believed passionately in the right of journalists to ask difficult questions”.

He added: “James Downey was a provocative columnist. He had an unrivalled knowledge of Irish politics. James was urbane and sophisticated yet never lost touch with his rural roots or his love of Co Leitrim. He was the best of company and will be missed as a friend and mentor.  He could be provocative, controversial and even annoying but no one could ever accuse him of being boring. Irish journalism has lost a significant figure but he leaves behind a rich legacy through the archive of his work, his memoir and the many memories cherished by former colleagues”.

He is survived by his beloved wife Moira, and his daughters Rachel and Vanessa, sisters Eva, Frances and Maria, brother Tony, sons-in-law Sean and Brendan, extended family and friends.

His funeral mass will take place in St Patricks Church, Dromahair at 12pm on Saturday.

Foreign Affairs minister Charlie Flanagan led the tributes to Mr Downey on Twitter this morning.

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