Noreen Kearney who died on 26 October made a significant contribution to the development of the Institute from the earliest days. The Institute’s President, Brendan Halligan described her as “a great stalwart and wonderful supporter.”
Noreen Kearney had a long and influential career in TCD where she achieved the position of Dean of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Studies. Her notable skills in giving direction to a major faculty were matched by her academic contribution, for example in co-editing a 2005 IPA study “Social Work in Ireland.”
In 1974 she was recruited by Frank Cluskey to play a key role in the establishment of the National Committee on Pilot Schemes to Combat Poverty under the leadership of her friend Sister Stanislaus Kennedy. She served on the Committee until its closure in 1980. In 1986 she was named as the first Chair of the Combat Poverty Agency (1986-1989) and then as Vice-Chair (1989-1995). In both of these positions she was closely involved in the evolution and implementation of European Social Policy led, in the Brussels Commission by Patrick Hillery, Jacques Delors and Padraig Flynn.
Her interest in European matters led Noreen Kearney to associate herself with the Institute of European Affairs, launched by Brendan Halligan in 1991. She chaired one of the Institute’s early Working Groups, in the area of European Social policy, which produced a study of ‘EC Social Policy and Ireland’, edited by Seamus O Conneide in 1993.
Noreen Kearney was elected to the Institute’s Board of Directors in December 1993 when she was appointed to the group of Vice Chairpersons working with, and supporting, the IEA Chairperson, Brendan Halligan. She held that position until her retirement from the Board in 2013 when a carefully planned reorganisation of the Institute structures, to which she had made a major contribution in Board deliberations and decisions, was implemented. .
She took the chair at a number of the Institute Annual General Meetings, notably on the day of her election to the Board in 1993. She was an ex-officio member of the Institute’s Executive Committee, which directed the organisation’s day-to-day affairs and supported the work of the succession of outstanding occupants of the position of Director General: Brian Farrell, Terry Stewart, Alan Dukes, Jill Donoghue, Joe Brosnan and Daithi O Ceallaigh.
She was actively involved from the outset in key aspects of the Institute’s activities, chairing the Social Europe Group and participating in the work of the Board’s important Finance and Administration and Research Programmes Committees.
On her retirement from the Board, Noreen Kearney was made an Honorary Life Member of the Institute, joining Adrian Burke, Patrick Keatinge, Derry O’Hegarty, Geraldine Byrne Nason, Con Power and Lord Williamson of Horton, all of whom had contributed to the Institute’s development over the years. She now becomes the sixth Honarary Life Member to have died and who are remembered with respect and gratitude, with former President Patrick Hillery, former Taoisigh Jack Lynch and Garret FitzGerald, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jim Dooge and DrTomas O Cofaigh.