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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 9 December, 2019

'Sleep well, starling': Family and friends gather to remember activist Dara Quigley

At a vigil in Dublin this evening, her brother Sean called for a change in how the State treats addicts.


Without her I don’t know where I would have been, but she didn’t just do that with me. She led by example in a lot of ways. She wasn’t afraid, she wasn’t a victim.

DARA QUIGLEY’S BROTHER Sean will remember her as a “strong and intelligent woman” who he said opened his world up.

He does not want her to be remembered for the fact that a video of her at her most vulnerable was circulated by a member of the country’s police force.

Today family and friends marked a month since the 36-year-old woman’s death by suicide with a vigil outside Leinster House.

Her former physics lecturer described her as a “beautiful woman” who had kept in touch with him over the years as she was interested in how a person might apply ideas from physics to what is happening in society.

Journalist Harry Browne, who was a good friend of Dara’s, spoke passionately of the “power of her insistence, not only on her humanity – on everyone’s full and equal humanity.”

“She was a victim of callous inhumanity, a victim of vicious austerity and now we know of this kind of ignorant vulgarity of this State and of the people who are involved in running it. I know when I met Dara about three weeks before she passed away, she was pretty beaten down by those things, she was in a bad way and she looked like a victim,” he told those gathered to pay tribute to the activist.

But she wouldn’t really have that – that wasn’t her. She slagged me afterwards for the fright that she’d given me.

A number of speakers referenced her powerful writing and in particular a column she wrote from her hospital bed last September in which she said our economy and society is “modelled on the behaviour of pigeons, survival of the fittest, everybody out for themselves”.

“The reality is more complex and beautiful than this regime can possibly imagine. In reality, we are more like a flock of starlings, producing intricate, amazing patterns all arising from one fundamental rule: no one bird is allowed to get lost,” she wrote.

With tears in his eyes, screenwriter and journalist Tom Stokes told the crowd that the last time he saw Dara she stood in front of him “with the most massive smile on her face, and she put her arms around me”.

Source: Michelle Hennessy/

“I’ve been trying to nail what the philosophy of Republicanism is and how it can be delivered in short order in a few words,” he said, adding that Dara had managed to do this in that piece she wrote in hospital.

Looking up into the sky, he finished with: “Sleep well, starling.”

‘The most incredible person’

Councillor Gary Gannon, who also spoke at the vigil, said Dara held a mirror up to anyone who ever called themselves activists.

“Nobody could ever accuse her of not telling the truth.”

In his first interaction with Dara, she told him he was adopting his accent to try to give him more street credit.

“It was just a brilliant interaction because she checked my bona fides, and she questioned my politics and eventually, after some scrutinising, she came to the conclusion that I was okay.”

The most incredible person, the most incredible natural diamond who just…I can’t understand the cruelty that it would take to diminish a person in that manner – and that’s what hurts.

The 36-year-old had struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues and her brother Sean spoke of flaws in the current system that require an addict get themselves clean before they are provided with treatment.

“I want us to try to use this, the outrage and the anger and pain that everybody feels for some kind of positive change – because it is possible.”

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: ‘Deplorable and revolting’ treatment of deceased activist Dara Quigley is raised in the Dáil>

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