The death of Veronica McDermott (1956-2021), formerly of Summerhill, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, occurred at her home in Castleknock on January 14, 2021.
The youngest child of the late Jim and Maggie McDermott and a sister to Brian, Eileen and Margaret, Veronica was married to Tony Malone and proud mother of her children, Nessa and Fergal.
Veronica was educated with the Marist Sisters in Carrick-on-Shannon and at NUI Galway (then UCG). Her love of reading, her integrity, and her questioning of the status quo were in evidence from an early age. She had a varied career, working as a journalist, researcher, policy and political analyst, activist, public affairs consultant, author and lecturer.
She started as a journalist with the Galway Advertiser before beginning work at IRN, an industrial relations newsletter, of which she was editor during the early 80s, at a time of great industrial unrest in Ireland.
Following her time at IRN, she worked as an advisor to two Labour Ministers during the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government (1982-1987). She subsequently moved to the public relations giant, Hill & Knowlton.
She established her own successful public affairs and relations business, Public Affairs Network (PAN Ltd) in 1994 and published the monthly newsletter and digest of Irish political affairs, Public Affairs News (1997-2004).
As a consultant, she played an important role helping the Irish and British governments manage their relationships with regard to the controversial Sellafield nuclear plant and to conclude an agreement aimed at ending hostility over the station.
Veronica’s book on the episode, Going Nuclear: Ireland, Britain and the Campaign to Close Sellafield, was published in 2007 by Irish Academic Press. She was a dispassionate analyst, who quickly identified the core of a policy document, a dispute, or a political controversy.
A committed European, she was actively involved with the Institute of International and European Affairs and was a member of the Labour Party.
Veronica’s areas of interest finally led her to engage in a PhD in science and communication at NUI Maynooth, where she truly enjoyed lecturing on the topic of Science Communication at the Department of Biology.
She espoused the importance of the principles of service to others and of collective community solidarity. She saw these as crucial, both locally and globally, especially in relation to the Covid pandemic and climate change.
Indeed, she made her own local contribution to the climate crisis by persuading Fingal County Council to dedicate two sections of the green area, near her home in Chesterfield, Castleknock, for wildflowers to support bees. She was so proud and excited about her ‘Bee Gardens’.
A wonderful homemaker, she and Tony shared a life and a great love for over 37 years. Their many interests in common included literature, politics and their great love of County Clare and Irish traditional music. Playing her concertina was a great comfort to Veronica in the final weeks of her short and devastating illness.
Veronica’s deep-seated values of honesty, truth and sincerity permeated all her relationships and her strong work ethic.
She quickly saw through and abhorred any kind of insincerity, hypocrisy or self-promotion. She was strong-minded and outspoken, and always stood up for what she believed in.
A caring and trusted friend to all who had the privilege to know and befriend her, Veronica was taken abruptly and too soon. She will be sadly missed.