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Seamus Heaney's support for union remembered

2 September 2013

The NUJ has paid tribute to Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, whose funeral takes place in Dublin on Monday 2 September.

The poet and playwright, a towering presence on the world stage was a strong supporter of the Irish press workers during the 1995 dispute and a fearless advocate of the right to freedom of expression.

Barrry McCall, NUJ President, said the death of Seamus Heaney had left the Irish nation and the world of literature bereft.

Barrry McCall said: 

"Seamus Heaney is remembered for his humanity, his commitment to social justice and for the strong ethical values which shone through his work. He is also remembered among journalists for his generosity of spirit, his grace and charm and his unfailing courtesy."

Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary, recalled the support shown to Irish press workers by Seamus Heaney. He said the loyal support shown to Heaney…

"… personified his commitment, his innate decency and his consistent support for workers and all who struggle for what is right."

The writer and poet Hugh McFadden was a member of the Irish Press chapel and contacted Heaney just as he was about to go on holidays to Greece. Typically, Seamus Heaney agreed to the request to take part in a fund rasing event in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin.

A week later, Seamus Heaney was announced as the winner of the Nobel prize for literature. Despite being in huge demand by the world media for interviews and readings, Seamus honoured his commitment to the Irish press workers and took part in the benefit concert, bringing with him his great friend, folk singer Davy Hammond. It was a gesture which was greatly appreciated and is recalled by Hugh in today’s Irish Times.

Tags: , Seamus Heaney, Ireland, Irish press, literature