Obituary of Derry O’Hegarty

Mark Dempsey15th April 20203min
Derry O’Hegarty, who died on 31 March, will be remembered for playing an indispensable role in establishing, and then running, the Institute through its first decade of existence.

Derry O’Hegarty, who died on 31 March, will be remembered for playing an indispensable role in establishing, and then running, the Institute through its first decade of existence. He served as Company Secretary from the launch of the Institute in 1991 until his retirement in 1999.

Senior partner in a major accounting firm and former Chairman of the Taxation Institute, Derry was approached in 1990 by the Institute’s founding Chairman, Brendan Halligan, to contribute his expertise and experience to the Organisation Committee which had been created to develop the Institute project. Brendan Halligan has commented “Given there was no point in reinventing the wheel he simply applied his experience to the new challenge and succeeded triumphantly. This was helped by the fact that at that stage in his career he was a partner in Deloitte and widely respected in the accountancy profession.”

He set about handling the legal formalities – drafting the Memorandum and Articles of Association, securing Incorporation as a Company limited by Guarantee with no share capital, attaining Charitable and Educational status – and setting up a financial control system which has operated and developed effectively over the ensuing years. The Memorandum and Articles were formally signed in April 1991 and the signatories were confirmed as Directors. Derry O’Hegarty was designated as Company Secretary. Taking responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Institute he succeeded in setting up a small but effective Head Office team which he led with skill and good humour.

As Secretary, he identified the clear priority of securing the Institute’s ownership of its North Great Georges Street premises which had been purchased by two founding members – Brendan Halligan and Niall Greene –under a Memorandum of Understanding which gave the Institute the option to purchase, at the lower of cost or market value, over an agreed period. The IEA Trust was established to seek and receive contributions towards the purchase. This initiative proved successful, gaining the support of ten major public and private organisations, and, in September 1998 a contract to purchase the house was signed with completion on 31 October. Derry saw this as his key achievement for the Institute.

Derry retired from the position of Secretary in March 1999 and was succeeded by Andrew Clarke. He was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Institute in appreciation of his contribution. He left the Institute with a sound legal basis and effective financial systems and, most importantly, with the major asset of its wholly-owned premises.

Brendan Halligan has commented on his friend Derry O’Hegarty that “At the personal level he was the most delightful of companions with wide interests in politics, Irish public life and Roman history among many other topics. He was for example an expert in the organisation of the Roman army and I still have some of his books on my bookshelf. I am only too deeply aware of the debt we owe him in setting up the IIEA.” That very personal view has been widely endorsed by his colleagues in the early years of the Institute who recall his warm personality and his “fund of wisdom and common sense”.

The current crisis means that the Institute must wait to pay its proper tribute to Derry O’Hegarty while extending condolences to his family in their great loss.

Tony Brown