Remembering Sir George Quigley
Sir, – I would like to pay tribute to Sir George Quigley, who died suddenly earlier this week. Sir George was an outstanding senior civil servant and business leader, and a visionary thinker about all matters Irish and (in particular) Northern Irish, with an amazing command of the economics, politics and history of this country. His myriad services to Northern Ireland ranged from spearheading the campaign to lower corporation tax to authoring a mould-breaking report on contentious parades.
Historians will see him as a key figure in the unfolding of the Northern Irish peace process. In 1992, as chair of the Confederation of British Industry (NI), he urged policy-makers to work for a Belfast-Dublin “economic corridor” and an “island of Ireland” economy. In this he was well ahead of his time, and his thinking informed both the 1998 Belfast Agreement and the establishment of probably the most successful of its North-South bodies, InterTradeIreland. He was, in fact, the “father” of practical North-South co-operation in Ireland.
I worked off and on with Sir George for 20 years. He was an extraordinary man: brilliant, deeply thoughtful, with a mind that sparkled with intellectual curiosity, and at the same time always immensely courteous to and considerate of others. He was what I would call a “great soul”, as well as a great Irishman. – Yours, etc,