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Niall Harnett - RIP

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Seán Ryan's Avatar
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Default Niall Harnett - RIP

Niall died a little while ago after a short illness.

I've been alternating all day between crying like a child and laughing like a loon, remembering some of the mad and excellent times we had, and knowing that his time was short.

Niall will probably be best remembered for his activities with Shell to Sea. But there were lots of worthy causes out there, from the environmental to deeply human issues and Niall immersed himself in many of them. In the ones where he couldn't create the time to help, he always found someone else who'd care, who'd help. To be in need and to contact him ensured at the very least that one wasn't alone.

To me, he was always a rogue. He'd persuade you of anything and he'd be there right beside you, to back you up, or he'd be running off ahead whilst you weighed the pros and cons.

I first met him in 2005, in a court in Ennis and he showed me, along with the others that day, that I should not fear the judiciary, the gardaí or indeed, my own heart.

I don't mean to paint the picture of a saint. Did he have flaws? God yes! And I loved each and every one of them.

So long buddy...

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Old Today, 12:16 AM
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Default Re: Niall Harnett - RIP

Aye, Niall will be missed by all those who knew him. Unlike so many in important positions in this land, Niall had integrity, and the guts to state his position clearly to all and stand his ground when Power laid the hurt on. He did 3 months in Castlerea on the back of a bull$hit conviction from the Shellmullet District Court. As Seán said, Niall wasn't a saint, and could be stubborn and unreasonable in argument betimes, but he gave his all for the causes he cared about and you could never doubt his basic decency. This must be a really hard time for his partner, and for all who were close to him. I've cried a tear or two for him today already, and I probably will shed a good few more over the coming days. Another good egg has left the building, and it'll feel that bit smaller without him. RIP Niall, and Shell Chun Sáile Abú!
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Old Today, 12:27 AM
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Default Re: Niall Harnett - RIP

A very determined person, it seems.
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Old Today, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: Niall Harnett - RIP

I just read this. An interesting account of life in Castlerea Prison.

http://dysophia.files.wordpress.com/...il_nh_web1.pdf

A great loss.

RIP

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Old Today, 02:41 AM
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Default Re: Niall Harnett - RIP

Thanks for that Sam, it was great to reread it.

I remember one time, up in Belmullet - I was Niall's McKenzie and he was up in front of Devins on a mention date. She was in the full flight of madness that morning and had already confiscated the phone of a local councillor and he was cooling his heals in the company of the gardaí. Niall wanted to make an application to employ the use of a little recording device so that he could later transcribe it if it was needed for an appeal, or whatever, this was before the law made the practice unlawful. Anyhow, I'd advised that he should ask Devins for a "reasoned judgement," in the event that we needed to drag her arse into the High Court to put manners on her. A "reasoned judgement" entails the judge giving an explanation as to why he or she has decided a matter using the law to act as a grounding for the decision.

Just before Niall's case was called, Maura Harrington was called. She wanted to bring her own stenographer into the court amongst other things. By the time Maura was finished, Devins was downright homicidal.

Up stands Niall. Very politely, he makes the rest of his applications and then he makes the one about the recording device. He then tells her he'd like her to make a reasoned judgement. She stares at him. Her eyes widen. The courtroom goes deathly silent. It's so quiet I can hear a heartbeat and I'm not so sure it's mine.

Devins' big hoop earrings begin to swing wildly as she finally unleashes the mental beast within. "Mr Harnett!" she shrieks. "Are you suggesting that I don't use reasoning in my determinations!" she screams. She's planted both fists and forearms on the bench in front of her and I'm quite certain that she's going to spring forward and fukkin kill him.

She raves on for minutes about respect and in particular, the lack of it where Niall's concerned. Niall just stands there. Still as a statue. Not even slightly perturbed by the storm. Finally, Devins manages to come back to being able to scream in English and she demands that Niall come back after lunch and explain himself in a fashion that might give rise to her not having him locked up for contempt. Niall merely says "No problem judge," and Devins rises and shakily exits stage left.

We get outside the courtroom and I go to congratulate Niall on maintaining his composure. But no go there. Niall goes into "Devins mode." What the eff am I after doing to him. Am I off my game? Niall's storm is much shorter than Devins' and I explain that I'm very certain as to what I'd advised and that Devins was nuts.

By the time we reached the little cafe we were to have lunch in, we were laughing and joking about it.

Over lunch, Niall started to write in his little notebook, what it was he was going to say to Devins when we went back. It started off, very politely, patiently explaining the meaning of what he'd asked for in very placating and conciliatory terms. As he wrote, I could see his brow begin to furrow and his eyes narrow. "Eff her!" he shouted as he slammed the notebook down onto the table, dragging the eyes of everyone in the place, including the odd pig or two onto us. He opened his notebook once more and started to scribble furiously. About a minute after he started, he finished. The lines in his forehead disappeared and he smiled. He handed the notebook to me. It was my turn to lose the plot. "You can't effin say that to her. She'll lock us both up and we'll never be allowed out!" I roared at him. I could see the pigs getting ready to intercede at this point, so I calmed myself down and tried to look at him in an encouraging but concerned fashion. But it was no go, the bastard was laughing and it was infectious. So I said "eff it! You did nothing wrong, let's go for it."

I'll not repeat, ever, what was contained in that short note, but it was, to put it mildly, deadly and in final analysis, spot on.

So after lunch we were all back in Court. My partner and Niall's partner seated themselves at the back of the court and waited for the two nutjobs to get themselves into a world of hurt.

As Devins glided back into the room, I only noticed those two huge earrings swinging. She looked to me, like something that was about to have a bridle fitted. She sat and Niall immediately jumped to his feet, ready to stick it to her. But she got in there first. "I understand what it was that you meant Mr Harnett," she soothed, in a voice that belied everything that had happened earlier. She went on to say that she'd consider his application and would make a ruling in another sitting. Both Niall and I had to be elsewhere on that particular date so it was agreed that Maura, who'd made a similar application, would convey her ruling to Niall.

We walked out of the court. Laughing, dismayed that he didn't get to say what he'd wanted to say and relieved that he didn't say what he most assuredly would have said.

Devins turned down both Maura's application and Niall's. Maura dragged her into the High Court in a Judicial Review and put some manners on her.

That was Niall. You'd experience each and every emotion under the sun in his company, joy to rage and fear to exhilaration, all at the very same time...

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Last edited by Seán Ryan; Today at 04:04 AM.                 
Posted Date: 
18 January 2013