Campaigner Sean Loftus dies


Long-time environmental campaigner and former TD Sean Loftus has died in hospital today after an illness.

One of Dublin's most colourful politicians, Mr Loftus, who at one stage changed his name to Sean Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus, spent much of his political career fighting against an oil refinery in Dublin Bay. He also argued that Ireland should claim the oil reserves off Rockall.

In successive election campaigns, he portrayed himself as an independent campaigner for the rights of the ordinary citizen.

First elected as a local representative in 1974 and as a TD in 1981. he contributed to the end of his Dáil career when he voted against John Bruton's 1982 Budget. He was born in 1927 and was a lecturer in law for 26 years. He qualified as a barrister in 1958, and subsequently lectured in the United States, before coming home permanently and entering politics in 1961.

The Dublin North East TD was best known for changing his name by deed poll in his campaigning against repeated attempts to develop the capital’s bay. Over the last four decades he spearheaded battles against plans for an oil refinery, underground gas caverns and infills.

He was also involved in the campaign against the controversial Wood Quay development in Dublin city centre in the 1970s.

Mr Loftus was an elected member of Dublin City Council for 25 years and served as an Independent TD for Dublin North East during the short-lived government between 1981 and 1982. At that time he had changed his name to Sean Alderman Dublin Bay Rockall Loftus to highlight territorial claims to a rocky islet several hundred kilometres off the coast of Co Donegal.

A law lecturer in Dublin Institute of Technology, he was also honorary legal adviser of the preservation organisation Dublin Bay Watch.

Mr Loftus, who had been ill for some time, is survived by his wife Una and children Muireann, Fiona and Ruairi.

Paying tribute, Green Party leader John Gormley said: “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Sean Dublin Bay Loftus. I have known Sean for a very long time and we worked together on Dublin City Council.

“Sean was a gentleman, always kindly and encouraging and a true environmental pioneer. He led the way even before the Green Party came into existence. Sean never wavered in his pursuit of the highest environmental ideals. He was a man of deep principle and conviction and he will be sadly missed by all those who care passionately about the environment," Mr Gormley said.

“He was fighting the good fight right up to the time of his death. I will always remember the encouraging notes he wrote to me in recent years when I became Minister for the Environment. And on a personal level I will miss his encouragement. To his wife Una, his family and his close friends I convey my deepest sympathy on behalf of the Green Party. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin Gerry Breen, a friend and colleague of Mr Loftus on the Dublin Bay Watch committee, said the city had lost an ally. “Sean was an environmentalist before the word was invented,” he said.

“The worst excesses of Ireland over the past 40 years have been avoided in Dublin Bay thanks to Sean.”

Mr Breen said he met Mr Loftus only a few weeks ago to celebrate their latest victory against Dublin Port Company’s plans to fill in 52 acres of the bay, which was rejected by planners last month. "Although sick, he was delighted,” he said. "Sean’s life was his family and Dublin Bay."

Additional reporting PA