Exhibition to ‘working class hero’ Tony Gregory unveiled

Exhibition on Dublin Central TD’s life to run in local library for several weeks

At the opening of an exhibition celebrating  Tony Gregory  were his friends and fellow activists Mick Rafferty and Fergus McCabe, with Tony’s brother, Noel (centre). Photograph: Dave Meehan

At the opening of an exhibition celebrating Tony Gregory were his friends and fellow activists Mick Rafferty and Fergus McCabe, with Tony’s brother, Noel (centre). Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

An exhibition on the life of the late TD and campaigner Tony Gregory was unveiled on his old patch of Dublin’s North Strand on Wednesday night.

The Independent politician is most associated with the multi-million pound “Gregory deal” he negotiated with Charles Haughey in 1982. This saw him pledge his support for a Fianna Fáil government in exchange for large-scale investment in the deprived north inner city.

Mick Rafferty (68), a long-time community worker and activist, was among those present for the exhibition’s opening.

“I met Tony in about 1975,” he said, pointing to a picture in the exhibition of himself standing alongside Gregory.

Gregory, who represented Dublin Central until his death in 2009 aged 61, was known for campaigning for better housing, in support of female street traders, and against drugs, which plagued the inner city during the 1980s.

“He was extremely focused, a lot of the time politicians are blown in the wind, and they will be clientelistic, and then drop things, but Tony was very consistent,” Mr Rafferty said.

Government collapse

Gregory, he added, chose to support Haughey rather than Fine Gael leader Garret FitzGerald back in 1982 as the former was “very exact about what could be delivered”. However, the deal failed to materialise when the government collapsed later that year.

“Now nearly 40 years after that, the Mulvey report came out, and we say that the Mulvey report is really the Gregory deal for slow learners,” Mr Rafferty said, referencing a plan of investment for the area instigated by former taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The exhibition on Gregory will be shown in the Charleville Mall Library until the end of September. Librarian Anne Gannon said there were plans to invite local schools in to visit the exhibition over the coming weeks.

Mary Muldowney, Dublin City Council historian in residence for the area, described Gregory as a “true working class hero”.

“As a historian I am very conscious about how much working class people have been left out of historical records, especially in Ireland,” she said.

The history of ordinary people had “as much value as Leo Varadkar or anybody else”, she added.