Tributes for The Observer's Mary Holland

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was among many public figures who’ve paid tribute to The Observer and Irish Times columnist Mary Holland who died in a Dublin hospital this week, aged 69, of a degenerative connective tissue disease, cleroderma.

He described her as “a courageous journalist whose coverage of Northern Ireland had been hugely influential”.

Other tributes came from the former SDLP leader and Nobel peace prizewinner John Hume and Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy.

Multi-award-winning Holland was a significant figure in Irish and British journalism, predominantly for her work in Northern Ireland.

In the late 1960s she became known as the first journalist to represent a major British paper in Northern Ireland.

Her journalistic career began with Queen magazine. She also wrote for Vogue and was a trenchant columnist for The Irish Times from 1979 until recently, and for The Observer until 2000. Apart from two short breaks, Holland worked for The Observer from 1964 until 1979, when she was controversially sacked by the then editor-inchief, Dr Conor Cruise O’Brien.

She was immediately appointed as Irish editor of the New Statesman and was a co-founder of Magill magazine in the late Seventies with Vincent Browne.

Holland later worked as a reporter on the London Weekend Television Weekend World documentary series, was a regular panelist on RTE’s Questions and Answers and appeared regularly on the BBC and UTV.

Last month she was honoured with life membership of the NUJ.

Seamus Dooley, the union’s Irish secretary, said: “Mary Holland was a journalist of fearless courage and integrity. ” She is survived by a daughter, Kitty and son Luke, both of whom are journalists.

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