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Tuesday 25 July 2017

'Unsung hero of peace process' -- Ahern adviser Hickey laid to rest

DANIEL McCONNELL Chief Reporter

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern yesterday described his appointment of the late Gerry Hickey in 1991 as his programme adviser as "one of the best decisions I ever made".

Mr Ahern delivered the eulogy at Mr Hickey's packed funeral in St Fintan's Church, Sutton, in north Dublin.

Leading figures from a cross section of Irish life paid their respects to one of the key figures of the Ahern era. They included former Tanaisti Mary Coughlan and Mary Harney, former ministers Dick Roche, Mary Hanafin, Dermot Ahern and Martin Mansergh.

Several of Mr Ahern's closest aides from his Drumcondra constituency -- including Des Richardson, former TD Cyprian Brady and Chris Wall -- were also in attendance.

Mr Hickey, 67, died last Thursday at home, surrounded by his family following a long battle with cancer.

In his address, Mr Ahern described him as "one of the unsung heroes of the peace process".

"He was at my side, almost without interruption, until I retired as Taoiseach in May 2008. He never faltered in good days or bad," Mr Ahern said. "He had a remarkable coolness even in the most difficult political situations."

Mr Ahern spoke of Mr Hickey's love of Munster rugby, hiking and his visits to France.

To warm laughter, Mr Ahern also referred to Mr Hickey as being a creature of habit. "He enjoyed a pint and he drank in Doheny and Nesbitts for over 40 years. Alas, I never did quite manage to persuade him of the merits of Fagan's," he said.

Mr Hickey, a former Capuchin seminarian turned Department of Finance official, was born in Mallow, Co Cork, yet honoured his father by supporting the Kerry football team, Mr Ahern said.

Mr Hickey's "greatest pleasure in life was his family. He was immensely proud of Margaret and their children", the congregation was told.

Among the chief mourners at the funeral mass were Mr Hickey's wife Margaret, son Barry and his daughters Ciara and Susan. Ciara is a well-known face in Dublin's public relations industry.

Other mourners at the funeral mass included former Fianna Fail spin doctor PJ Mara; former government secretary general Dermot McCarthy; former Department of Finance secretary general David Doyle; former government press secretary Mandy Johnston; union bosses Blair Horan and Liam Doran; NTMA head John Corrigan; FF deputy leader Eamon O Cuiv, whose mother Emer died only last week; FF TDs Timmy Dooley and Michael Moynihan; current FF senator Averil Power; Brian Geoghegan; Dublin North TD Finian McGrath; former junior minister Noel Ahern, and former FF spin doctor Gene McKenna. "Well done, Gerry, you lived a life of distinction and achievement. Now rest in peace my friend," Mr Ahern ended to warm applause. Mr Hickey was laid to rest in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Sunday Independent

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