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Sudden death of Corrib campaigner causes shock

The late Niall Harnett
TRIBUTES The late Niall Harnett

Sudden death of Corrib Gas campaigner causes deep shock

Áine Ryan

TRIBUTES have been paid to the late Niall Harnett, a leading Corrib gas protestor, who died in Dublin last Thursday after a brief illness. A member of Shell to Sea and Rossport Solidarity Camp, Mr Harnett, who was aged 47, was jailed for five months in 2010, after an altercation with gardaí. He also came before the District Court in Mayo on many occasions and was known for his passionate defences and his knowledge of the law.
A keen traditional musician, Mr Harnett was involved in several environmental campaigns over the years including the Shannon anti-war protest and the more recent campaign in 2011 for the release of County Offaly pensioner, Teresa Treacey who was jailed for refusing to allow the ESB and Eirgrid on her wooded lands near Tullamore.    
His funeral service, which was held at Christ Church, Taney, followed by cremation at Mount Jerome crematorium yesterday afternoon, was attended by large numbers of friends from north west Mayo.
Speaking at the service, his friend, Tracey Ryan said: “Niall always stood up for what he believed in. He was strong and brave and one of the most stubborn people I ever met. He never did what he was told, he always did things on his own terms and we loved him for that. He put his heart and soul into everything he did from opposing the war in Iraq to the struggle against Shell in Mayo.”
Attending the service, veteran campaigner Maura Harrington told The Mayo News she first met Niall in 2004, while he was still living in Doolin, County Clare.
“He was a passionate environmentalist and musician and I think he moved to Mayo in 2007 or 2008. A defining characteristic of Niall’s for me was his huge research into the law and his sincere willingness to rely on it, which did not always mean he received justice,” Maura Harrington said.
Speaking on behalf of  Pobal Chill Chomáin, Vincent McGrath said the community was ‘shocked and saddened’ to learn of his unexpected death.
“Niall was an iconic figure of the Corrib gas saga and while we may have disagreed from time to time on tactics and strategy his commitment and support were never in doubt. He believed in solidarity not just within communities but also between communities and we will never forget that it was people like Niall who came to our aid in the early days when we were being dismissed as uninformed cranks holding up progress,” Mr McGrath said.
He said he welcomed the acknowledgement since his death that ‘the wider community now benefiting from the Corrib gas project also owes a debt of gratitude to people like Niall’.
Niall Harnett is survived by his long-term partner, Carol, his parents, Anne and Humphrey and his two siblings, Anne-Marie and Conor.

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