Growing up as a enthusiastic member of the Young Progressive Democrats in the early 1990s, one was aware of the hierarchy in the party.
First, there was Dessie, the boss (but not in the CJ way), rockstar, party founder. Then, there was Mary, Michael and Pat, the young (and they were. People forget that.) dynamos, each one a party leader in waiting in their own right.
But in the middle, just under Dessie, was Bobby Molloy. The adult. The grown up. To us, Bobby was Mr Solid. Everywhere else in the country, even in Limerick and the supposedly PD “heartland” of south Dublin delivering PD votes and seats was an often insurmountable challenge. But not in Bobby Molloy country, one of only two constituencies in the country where the PDs never lost their seat.
That wasn’t the party brand. That was Bobby Molloy, and understandable too. Some would say that it was the Fianna Failer in him, indeed that he was an FFer in all but name, but people forget: he didn’t have to defect. He could have kept his mouth shut and stayed in FF and been guaranteed a future, but he didn’t. He took the leap.
It was due to Bobby that the party had a conscience clause, something FF now takes as normal. It was also Bobby who delivered once, to a branch meeting, the best synopsis of what the PD credo was. We were, he said, the party that wants to make the national cake bigger, because that’s the best way of skimming a chunk off to help people at the bottom.
That was the PD credo right there.
Politics aside, he was a gent. He gave me, along with so many Young PDs, a kind word when he didn’t have to. I still remember, in a speech he gave, referencing remarks I’d made in a speech a half hour earlier. It doesn’t sound like much now, but when you’re a nervous teenager starting out it matters. It meant an awful lot to me.
Bobby Molloy left politics and the country in a better state than he found it, and for that, those of us who knew him ever so slightly were all the better for it. God bless.