Founder member of New Consensus peace group


Anne Holliday:ANNE HOLLIDAY, who has died aged 57, was a founder member of New Consensus, the group which called for the revision of the Republic’s territorial claim on the North and devolved government for the people of Northern Ireland based on “mutual respect, civil liberty and freely given allegiance”.

She also was involved in organising the first rail journey by the Peace Train from Dublin to Belfast, as part of its campaign to end disruption of the north-south rail link by the IRA. In 1991 she helped organise the Peace Train’s journey from Belfast to London via Dublin. The following year, however, the Peace Train and New Consensus went their separate ways.

She remained with New Consensus, which picketed Sinn Féin árd fheiseanna in opposition to republican violence. The group also picketed UDA offices.

New Consensus had its critics. Accused of focusing exclusively on paramilitary violence, the group stated its repugnance at “all cases where agents of the Irish or British governments have killed people who posed no immediate danger to life”. It expressed its support for the existence of the security forces, north and south, but not of paramilitary organisations. In 1994, following the IRA’s ceasefire declaration, New Consensus called for a complete cessation to be reciprocated by loyalist paramilitaries in addition to scaled-down security force activity, north and south.

Anne Holliday was born in Limerick in 1953, the eldest of two daughters of Ralph Melvin Holliday and his wife Vera (née Davis). Educated at Villiers School, Limerick, she became a Simon Community volunteer and also was a founder member of the local Irish Georgian Society chapter.

She became a secretary at the law firm Matheson Ormsby Prentice in Dublin where, in the late 1970s, she campaigned to save Wood Quay. A member of Fine Gael, she later joined the Progressive Democrats.

In 1986 she became a Dáil secretary, working for PD deputy Michael Keating. When he stood down she was assigned to Green Party TD Roger Garland. After he lost his seat in 1992 her employment was terminated; a High Court challenge to the dismissal failed.

Having worked for a training company and as a researcher, she joined the Civil Service in 2001. Appointed personal assistant to National Museum director Pat Wallace, she later worked in media relations and special projects at the department of arts, sports and tourism and in the tánaiste’s office at the department of enterprise, trade and employment.

In 1996 she was one of three plaintiffs awarded substantial damages in a libel action against Tim Pat Coogan and his publisher at the High Court. The case arose from Coogan’s allegation in his book, The IRA, that New Consensus had “grown out of the old Official IRA”.

In 1998 she took part in the launch of Reform, a coalition of “new unionists for the new millennium”, describing herself as “a member of the Irish minority that the Belfast Agreement forgot”.

She lived in Drumcondra, where she was active in conservation and residents’ rights issues.

Her first marriage ended in divorce. In 2009, after being diagnosed with cancer, she married her long-time partner Michael Nugent. He and her sister Carolyn Patterson survive her.

Anne Holliday: born August 21st, 1953; died April 9th, 2011