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Tributes paid to union activist and farming champion Richie Flynn

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31 August 2018

The sudden death of Richie Flynn, former chair of the Dublin P&PR branch, has united in grief a wide and eclectic group of friends and professional colleagues.

Richie, 49, was the executive of the Irish Farmers' Association aquaculture division and served as a member of the NUJ’s Irish Executive Council from 1993 to 1996.

The first editor of the Irish Journalist, Richie helped spearhead NUJ fundraising initiatives during the Irish Press dispute. He also served as a member of the ICTU youth committee and was highly regarded in the wider trade union movement. At his funeral Brian Barry, IFA deputy general secretary generously recalled Richie’s trade union involvement, alongside his sterling work for the farming community and passionate belief in the rights of rural communities.

News of his untimely death shocked colleagues in the media, agriculture, marine and rural development sectors.

A graduate of communications studies at Dublin City University, Richie worked in the IFA’s press office from 1990 to 1996. Richie retained his branch membership and, more importantly his close friendships, with NUJ colleagues when he moved from the press office to pioneer development of the aquamarine sector. He is remembered for his engaging personality, sharp wit and incisive contributions to delegate conferences.
Richie was a former board member of the Marine Institute and chaired the EU advisory committee on aquaculture from 2001 to 2011. He also served as president of the European Shellfish Federation from 2012 to 2016.

Paying tribute, Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary said:

“Richie was a lifelong member of the National Union of Journalists. From his earliest days at Dublin City University he supported the principles of the union. He was a tower of strength to Irish Press journalists during the closure of the Irish Press group and enthusiastically threw himself into fundraising events. He used his networking skills and connections during that period and in his work with the ICTU.
"One of the reasons he was so successful as a press officer was that Richie was still a journalist at heart. Journalists also knew he was a man of principle and the utmost integrity so they trusted him. After he left the press office he retained Richie never took himself seriously but he was serious and passionate about the things that matter to him – family, friendship, music, work and service to others. If he had a flaw it was his intolerance of those who he viewed as having poor taste in music and he was never slow to share his views or vast knowledge."

At delegate meetings his interventions were reflective and wise and humour was often deployed. During a period of austerity the NUJ decided to hold a no frills DM in Congress House, with accommodation provided in nearby student accommodation. At the conference cabaret Richie and Séamus Dooley presented, at Flynn’s instigation a comic bid for a conference in Ireland. Dressed only in brown threadbare blanket Flynn proposed an end to luxury. Irish charities would provide tents, meals on wheels and phone boxes for the event in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green. Hard working activists could not expect the luxury of running water. General Secretary John Foster led the applause.

He was a devoted a husband and loyal father. His father’s recent death was a blow to Richie, who delivered a eulogy with characteristic style and humour. Sympathy is extended to Richie’s wife Trish, his son Liam, daughter Róisín, mother Helen and sister Sinéad.

Séamus Dooley and former Irish Secretary Eoin Ronayne visited the Flynn family home to express condolences to Trish on behalf of the NUJ and the wider trade union movement. George Kiely, Dublin P&PR branch, represented the union at the funeral in Mohill, Co Leitrim.