Patsy Cronin RIP – A Tribute

Patsy Cronin was the Chairperson of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.  Patsy was appointed Chairperson of S.K.D.P on 27th September 2005 and held the position up until his death on the 30th October 2013.     Patsy Cronin also served various terms as a director, being the I.C.T.U nominee, on the board of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.  Indeed Patsy Cronin was one of two SIPTU nominees in attendance at the very first board meeting of S.K.D.P held on 24th May 1991.

South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd was formed in 1991, under the PESP (Programme for Economic & Social Progress).  The Partnership  Companies were formed to provide a local community led response to the economic & social problems of rural areas, where the local community could work in partnership with the social partners (Trade Unions, employer’s bodies, farming organisation), statutory agencies and local government, in tackling the economic and social difficulties of rural areas.  South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd is a rural development company that works to improve the quality of life for citizens living in South Kerry through a range of economic, social, cultural & community development initiatives.   Addressing poverty, disadvantage and social exclusion are key aims of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.

Patsy Cronin was very proud of the work of SKDP. The voluntary time commitment required of Patsy as both the Chairperson and a director on the board of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd was very significant.  In his role as Chairperson, Patsy chaired the monthly board meetings of S.K.D.P and also chaired a number of important sub-committees and workings groups within S.K.D.P.  He was a very effective chairperson, respected by all the board, reflected in the fact that he held the position of chair for over eight years.  Working closely with the C.E.O, Patsy as Chairperson guided SKDP in its work.  He was extremely fair, every board member was allowed time to make their contribution, but when a board meeting needed to be called to order, Patsy was well able to do so. He was a very skilled negotiator and he brought these skills to bear on several occasions as Chairperson of S.K.D.P.  Patsy had a very strong sense of social justice. Fairness, respect & equality were core values for Patsy and these values were reflected in his work with SKDP and by extension with SKDP’s work with the communities SKDP serves.  Patsy Cronin firmly believed in partnership working, in taking a partnership approach to addressing the economic & social challenges facing communities.  The board of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd consists of four key pillars, 1 – community & voluntary sector, 2 – Social Partners, 3 – Statutory Agencies and 4 – Local Government.  Patsy Cronin brought all four key pillars on the board of SKDP together and ensured that they were able to operate effectively together.  The strong emphasis and importance that Patsy placed on partnership working ensured that the partnership ethos was intrinsic in the manner in which SKDP approached its work.

Patsy Cronin had a very strong sense of civic duty and responsibility.  He believed in the importance of citizens giving of their time voluntarily for the good of their communities, becoming involved in community & voluntary activity, making a contribution and utilising their skills and abilities for the betterment of their local areas.  Patsy’s involvement with his own community of Killorglin was a case in point.  He held positions with the local GAA club, Laune Rangers, was a very active member of the C.Y.M.S Hall (Community Hall in Killorglin) Management Committee, and spearheaded many of their development initiatives.  Patsy was also heavily involved with the Killorglin Pantomime group (And Indeed played a starring role in many of their plays!!!!).  He was also heavily involved with Killorglin Golf Club and more recently he was also a member of the Killorglin Archive Society, which was established to preserve the history and heritage of the Killorglin area by collecting and archiving old stories, recordings & film.     He was very proud of his roots in Langford Street Killorglin where he grew up and had a deep pride and affection for his community.  Patsy Cronin’s strong sense of civic responsibility, his belief in community & voluntary activity, his desire to empower local communities to address local economic & social challenges, meant he was a very ‘natural fit’ for South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.

Through his work with South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd, Patsy utilised the platform that SKDP provided to ensure that national and E.U. rural development resources were utilised to support, empower and develop local communities in implementing economic, community & social development initiatives.  Patsy Cronin was a strong believer and supporter of ‘bottom up’ Community Led Local Development, where local communities are at the heart of key decisions with regard to local development initiatives, where local development strategies are designed in response to local needs, with local ownership and local delivery.  Patsy Cronin was resolute in his determination to ensure that South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd, a community led local development company, would not be undermined in any way and that the ‘bottom up’ community led approach to local community development  as implemented by South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd would not be irreparably damaged.   Hence he was very outspoken and critical of Government plans, with regard to the alignment of local government and local development as published in the ‘Putting people first – Action Programme for Effective Local Government’ .     At a public meeting held in the CYMS Hall in Killorglin, held on May 2nd 2013, attended by over 300 people, Patsy Cronin rallied community activists in South Kerry against the proposals.  Patsy Cronin’s commitment to the work of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd and the communities SKDP serves was absolute and he very generously gave of his time.

Patsy Cronin was also held in very high esteem at a national level within local development circles.  A measure of his stature with all local development companies across the country can be gauged from the fact that in October 2009, Patsy Cronin was elected the first ever Chairperson of the Irish Local Development Network (ILDN).  ILDN was a new organisation, established in late 2009, representing the interests of 50 Local Development Companies, including South Kerry Development Partnership, across the country. In this role, he oversaw the integration of a variety of different cultures, regions and people with the aim of establishing one organisation to represent both rural and urban communities. He undertook this new role with vigour, energy and enthusiasm, using his well-honed negotiation skills developed from his trade union days. Patsy made a conscious effort to develop key relationships with key Departments and officials to ensure that the new organisation, that ILDN was, was recognised as the first reference point for the management and roll out of new national programmes as well as strengthening the delivery of existing ones in the areas of enterprise development and social inclusion. He also oversaw the establishment of the new structure of the ILDN organisation and worked on the basis of building and strengthening working relationships both within and outside of the network. Patsy’s mantra was that negotiation was the only way to make progress and in the challenging times of the past few years, his mantra held true. Patsy worked for the interests of progressing the work of member companies and by extension, the communities that they serve. Patsy was a gentleman and a man with a kind and considerate heart who was highly regarded by all ILDN members. His capacity to bring people through difficult times with a positive outlook will be one of his many enduring legacies in the memories of ILDN’s members.

Patsy Cronin held the position of Chairperson of ILDN until September 2013.

Patsy Cronin’s death leaves a huge void within South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd that will not be easily filled.  His affable & personal nature, his wit, great humour, sense of fun, generosity and commitment to the work of SKDP will be sorely missed by all who knew and worked with him.

May he rest in peace.    We wish to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and many many friends.

Noel Spillane

Chief Executive Officer

South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd

On Behalf of the Board, Management & Staff of South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.

Graveside Reflection by SIPTU General Secretary Joe O’Flynn