Martin and Ronnie in 2014 ©Photo by Derek Speirs

By Martin Collins, Co Director, Pavee Point

Firstly I would like to convey my deepest sympathies to Philip, Jonathan, Veronica and Paddy and to all of Ronnie’s extended family. 

I have worked with Ronnie for over 35 years and in that time Ronnie has had a profound positive impact on my life.   I remember when John O’Connell passed away, Ronnie described John as a friend and mentor.  Well, I feel very lucky as I have had two mentors – John and Ronnie.

I have learned so much from Ronnie – her advice, her strategic thinking and her ability to be able to look around corners and anticipate developments was extraordinary.

Ronnie was a tireless and fearless advocate for Travellers and Roma human rights.  I remember many, many times going with Ronnie to meetings with politicians and senior civil servants.  I will admit that from time to time I would take the odd prisoner – but Ronnie never took any prisoners.  She went through them for a shortcut.

Ronnie invested her life in Pavee Point and work with Travellers and Roma.  Ronnie totally immersed herself in the work and totally immersed herself in the community.  Ronnie was so well informed she could identify family connections in the community better than I could.  She knew many Travellers not only on a first name basis but on a nickname basis. 

In our community we don’t have a system or a ritual for becoming an honorary member – but if we did have such a system or ritual and if we developed criteria – there’s no doubt in my mind that Ronnie would tick all the boxes.

It has been a privilege to have worked with you Ronnie and to call you my colleague and above all – my friend.   I owe you a great debt of gratitude for the profound impact you had on my life.   I learned so much from you over the years.  Most of all I learned – believe in yourself and your ambition can be realised.  I know this is also true of many other Travellers.  

Ronnie, the journey we started out on almost 40 years ago is not finished.  The struggle goes on. I, and others, owe it to you to build on your incredible legacy.  We will forever speak your name.