Tuesday 23 January 2018

'Newsroom leader'

Paul Deering - assistant editor

If anyone epitomised the phrase, the pen is mightier than the sword then it was Seamus Finn.

He could have been a politician he was that tenacious in his pursuit of what Sligo needed and he never minded bringing politicians to task be it privately or publicly through his editorials and On The Line column.

Indeed, Sligo would probably not got half of what it did only for the strong writings of Seamus in the 1980s and 1990s in particular.

Seamus took his role as the voice of the people seriously and he never backed down in his fight for what he believed was right. The more senior the politician the more he relished holding them to account.

Sligo doing well across all spheres he revelled in and was a fearless campaigner on many issues. When I joined in 1990, the rail line to Dublin was under serious threat of closing.

Seamus fully backed the campaign to keep it open and we covered the story extensively including taking the protest trains to Dublin and rightly devoting pages to the issue until the threat was lifted.

Seamus loved nothing better than to get stuck into an issue like that and he took great pride in achieving a goal. To work with him for near on 20 years was a privilege. He was inspiring, ahead of his time, non judgemental and had an intense pride in this weekly production.

He encouraged his newsroom to seek out ground breaking stories and no matter how unpalatable these were at times for the people of Sligo he wanted them to know about it.

He backed his newsroom and was a true leader. Editorial meetings were informal chats on a Tuesday morning. He sat on the window sill in the Wine Street offices and the issues around town would be trashed out intermixed with great humour and everyone's opinion was valued no matter how long you were working there. And, it just wasn't politics that dominated the agenda. In particular, the post analysis of the Ireland soccer matches will always remain in my memory especially in a World Cup summer. Seamus was a very engaging man. He could tell a story with great clarity and humour.

Despite retirement some eight years ago, Seamus was still very much a newspaper man.

He loved current affairs and elections in particular and it was like old times when he turned up at the General Election count last year in the Clarion Hotel. He felt at home there and the hours just drifted by in his company. He had a great sense of humour which would keep you going. Seamus always asked about The Champion. When I saw him last week it was one of the first things he enquired about. His newsroom was like a second family to him and he was a real father figure to those who worked under him and was always fair and honest. A true champion who will be sadly missed.

Sligo Champion

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