CITY Hall flew the Rainbow Flag at half mast yesterday as flags, banners and bunting were raised streetside in a colourful tribute to the “larger-than-life” LGBT activist David Roche.
The equal rights campaigner passed away suddenly on Saturday at his home in Macroom.
Mr Roche was one of the original members of the LGBT interagency steering group, set up in 2002 to advance objective 86 of the City Development Plan- that LGBT communities would be supported in participating fully in the City's social, economic and cultural life.
City officials joined Mr Roche’s friends and colleagues to raise the flag, an international symbol of support for the LGBTQI community, emblazoned with the Cork City emblem as his funeral procession passed City Hall.
Cork County Hall also flew a Rainbow Flag at half-mast, in honour of the time Mr Roche spent in the county in his youth.
It was a fitting tribute to the man who played an instrumental role in helping Cork to become the first city in Ireland to formally fly the flag.
“Initially the position of Cork City Council was that only national flags and the flag of the city could be raised over the City Hall,” the LGBT interagency steering group chairperson and original member alongside Mr Roche, Siobhán O’Dowd said.
“Dave did his research and discovered that the protocol was, that if the flag were to be formally presented to the city, it could be flown. So then we just had to find an opportunity to make this happen.” “In 2013 (former) Lord Mayor Councillor John Buttimer was in San Francisco during Cork’s LGBT Awareness Week. Friends of ours there arranged to have the rainbow flag presented to him formally by the Mayor of San Francisco. Cllr Buttimer presented the flag to the city on his return, and in 2014 it was raised for the first time over City Hall by (then) Lord Mayor Councillor Catherine Clancy during LGBT Awareness Week.” As Mr Roche’s funeral cortege passed City Hall, there was respectful applause from a guard of honour comprising of City Council staff, public service representatives, and Dave’s colleagues from the LGBT interagency group and the Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance (CESCA).
“While we in Cork are still struggling to take in the death of our wonderful colleague and friend, we remember his great heart and honour the enormous contribution he made to the city and region,” Ms O’Dowd said.
“It’s a very sad day here in Cork,” Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald, who led the guard of honour, said.
“Dave had an interface with people, he was larger-than-life. When you were in his presence you knew it. A friendly, very compassionate man, very aware of people’s needs and a great advocate for equality. He had a very humanistic touch in his personality."
“He also had the character to listen to people, to hear their stories and to travel on a journey with them through their own life.” “I’d like to offer my condolences to his partner Paul, his mother Phil, his family and his wider extended family in the LGBT community, and to all the other communities he was involved in. Really, really, he has been a hero for all of these people.”