I HAVE had the pleasure of knowing Aengus Fanning for many years, not just on a personal level but as an occasional contributor to the Sunday Independent. Whether you agreed with him or not (and he never took disagreement personally), he was unfailing good company, full of ideas, and perennially involved in the business of shaping the public consciousness in ways he felt were important for the country.
Editing a major newspaper demands flair and intuition, and Aengus had both of these characteristics in spades.
It also involves a continuous balancing act, reconciling and combining a view of what the public wants, and a view about what the public ought to have. He was rarely troubled by doubts on either score, and his enthusiasms were infectious.
If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the continuous and robust success of the Sunday Independent under his stewardship was ample proof of his talent. His ability to tap into the zeitgeist, even when some of the campaigns he waged failed to evoke the political response he was aiming for, was never less than entertaining, sometimes infuriating, and always whole-hearted.
In a very real sense, his newspaper has been an important part of what we are during the eventful decades of his editorship. His many friends – not least those who were his journalistic comrades-in-arms or even rivals – will miss him sorely.
John Horgan is Press Ombudsman