Tributes have been paid to Bride Rosney, the former educator and special adviser to Mary Robinson during her time as president of Ireland, who has died.
Ms Robinson described her as “my indispensable friend, mentor and ally for many decades”.
News of her sudden death, aged 74, emerged on Friday morning and was met with considerable sadness among the many people in politics and public affairs who worked with her over the course of what was an impressive career.
Her brother Michael Rosney confirmed the news in a post on social media. “My beautiful sister Bride died in her sleep during the night,” he wrote. “It was completely sudden and unexpected but no doubt it is the type of death she would have wished for herself if she had any say in the matter. Please say a prayer for her. May she rest in peace.”
Born in Kerry, Ms Rosney grew up in Dublin and was educated at the Domincian College in Eccles Street after which she attended both UCD and Trinity College Dublin, where she studied science and computer practice respectively.
Having become a teacher, and education researcher, she was the principal of Rosmini Community School in Drumcondra when she left to work full-time with the then president Ms Robinson after her 1990 election. She remained a key adviser for the next seven years.
When Ms Robinson left the role to become the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Rosney continued to work with her. She was later both CEO for a time and then secretary of the board of trustees at the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice.
She worked with many other organisations across a range of areas, however, and became a board member of EirGrid, the Irish Fiscal Policy Research Centre, Chamber Choir Ireland and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, among others. Separately, she became a public affairs adviser, then director of communications at RTÉ, where she worked between 2002 and 2009.
In a statement on Friday evening, President Michael D Higgins said he joined “with the family, friends and colleagues of Bride Rosney in expressing my sadness following the sudden news of her death earlier today”.
“Bride was renowned, throughout her career, as a fearless advocate who dedicated her life to the betterment of society, both in Ireland and throughout the world.
“Bride will be remembered too for her important contributions to education, to public service broadcasting, to public service in the broadest sense and to the many other organisations and causes to which she brought such considerable expertise and passion throughout her life and career.
“May I send my deepest condolences to her partner Peter, her sister Mary, her brother Michael and her wider family, to her committed friend and colleague of so many decades Mary Robinson, and to all of her many friends.”
Ms Robinson, in a statement on Friday evening, said: “Like so many she touched, helped and advised, I am reeling from the loss.
“Our partnership began when we opposed the construction of civic offices at Wood Quay in 1978 and continued for over four decades. Bride was instrumental in shaping my presidential campaign and presidency with her values of social justice, equality and integrity. She lived her values throughout her successful career informing and influencing significant positive changes in Irish society, but she always managed to avoid the credit she was due.
“As a fierce advocate for the causes and people that she believed in, Bride’s loss will be felt widely by the human rights, arts, media and educational communities at home and abroad.
“On behalf of myself, Nick and my family, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to Bride’s partner Peter, her sister Mary, brother Michael and extended family, friends and colleagues.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “She truly was one of the women who went from rocking the cradle to rocking the system” - a reference to a line in Ms Robinson’s 1990 inaugural speech where she said she had been elected “above all by the women of Ireland, mná na hÉireann, who instead of rocking the cradle rocked the system, and who came out massively to make their mark on the ballot paper and on a new Ireland”.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik said: “Bride made an immense contribution to progressive change in Irish society through her work with Mary Robinson which helped re-define the presidency. Her work in the fields of education, human rights and environmentalism leaves a lasting legacy.”
In a statement, the Teachers Union of Ireland said it was “extremely saddened” to learn of the passing of Ms Rosney, a former member of its executive committee, “a renowned educationalist” and partner of the union’s former general secretary, Peter MacMenamin.
Pat Montague, himself a public affairs consultant, who met Ms Rosney in 1990 on the Mary Robinson election campaign after which the two remained friends described Ms Rosney as “an amazing woman”.
“An amazing person to have in your corner. There was nobody better to have on your side. She was tough, though, and she could give out to you too but always in a loving way.
“The news is a real shock, a bolt from the blue.”