A Tribute To Conor Lynch: Jack Lane
Roselawn Crematorium, Belfast
8 February 2012.
I want to thank Conor’s brother, Barry, and son, Jimmy, for the invitation to say a few words. There are quite a number of people who wanted to be here but could not make it. Pat Maloney, Manus O’Riordan and Annette, Pascal Ranaghan and Tom Doherty send their apologies and sympathy.
I had suggested to Conor for some time that he write a memoir about his life. But he was too modest to do so and that was a great pity.
He had an unusual and in fact a unique story to tell. I don’t know of anyone else who had the same political trajectory.
As you all know well, Conor was a very personable, sociable, gregarious person and could adapt to any situation and to get on with all sorts of people.
He had one annoying habit—he could suddenly disappear for periods—that could be weeks, months or even years and reappear just as suddenly and carry on as if he had just gone to the loo. He would be surprised if you asked him where he had been. I have had phone calls from him, out of the blue, from Spain, New York, Gaza, Syria and elsewhere.
That is why his death came as a surprise, as I and others thought he was on another of his sojourns over the Xmas period. He was free spirit—a rolling stone—almost literally.
He had an easy-going demeanour but this could be deceptive.
He had very strong feelings, convictions and qualities—and he always wanted to do something about those convictions—write, organize, publish, agitate or whatever. He could not just contemplate life for very long. Probably he had done enough of that during 7 years in Wakefield Prison which has the incongruous address of Love Lane, Wakefield. Even that did not prevent him from writing and debating with people on the outside though I am sure he broke several prison rules in doing so.
In politics we often agonise about what type of society we want and what would the best. I suggest that a society dominated by the values and beliefs that Conor had would be as good as you could get. It would not be perfect but I would be very happy in it.
Everyone here will remember him in their own way, whether as father, brother, husband, and of course as a political colleague with some of us for over 40 years. A frightening thought!
The things I remember particularly about him were his physical and moral courage.
Anyone who volunteers to join an army, goes on active service, pays the price and survives is courageous—whether or not you agree with the army concerned. I have seen people being amazed at this aspect of him and it seemed so out of character with the person they had come to know. Someone said in amazement—’but Conor wouldn’t hurt a fly’. Which is true.
But much more important, he had moral courage, the courage to change his views on issues—to face up to painful realities, to explain and say so—loudly—and carry on. Which he did a number of times on different issues in different contexts.
Like all in politics he had plenty failures but they never got him down—it just opened a new road for him—there was a lesson to be learned and you carry on. He would pick himself up and get on with it. He had a natural never-say-die attitude.
As he never published anything about himself, it is left to us who knew him to do so and we will do so. That will be our tribute to him. He will become known to others and his contributions will live on. So watch this space.
Thanks to the family for this ceremony and to Niall Cusack for being the perfect M C and thank you all for coming.