'Real patriot' Gregory remembered at launch
THE late Tony Gregory was last night remembered as an honest patriot in contrast to constituency colleague Bertie Ahern, who was accused of making outlandish promises for electoral gain.
At the launch of Mr Gregory's biography, historian Diarmaid Ferriter recalled meeting the Dublin Central TD at the 2007 general election count, when the then Taoiseach had polled 12,734 first-preference votes, to Mr Gregory's 4,649.
"In the run-up to that election, Bertie Ahern had made promises. He had promised the world, pathetically, outrageously," Mr Ferriter said.
"Tony Gregory had been as usual honest, even principled. And think now about how both of those individuals are viewed.
"We know the value of honesty. We know the value of a principled stance. We know the consequences of reckless and selfish posturing, giveaways, dangerous rhetoric. We know who the real patriot was in Dublin central."
The Pillar Room of the Rotunda Hospital was packed for the launch, with former ministers Mary Hanafin, Pat Carey and Sean Haughey among the crowd, along with Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald.
Tony's brother Noel gave a short speech. "Tony was always about the people's business," he said.
"He spent his whole life attending engagements. Politics was his hobby. Not just a career, it was his life."
Author and Trinity professor Robbie Gilligan said Mr Gregory was extraordinarily hardworking, honest and well organised.
Mr Gilligan said the late TD was very focused on policy and very well informed.
"He knew how to argue policy with the guards, or with drug policy people, he knew his stuff."
Mr Gilligan said the deal he struck with Charles Haughey for the constituency in 1982 -- known as the Gregory deal -- made him a household name.
Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan, who retained the seat vacated by Mr Gregory's death in January 2009, said the 30th anniversary of the deal would be commemorated in the north inner city next March.