Inner City Song farewell to the ‘beating heart of Dublin’

by Sylvia Pownall

Mourners lined the streets of Summerhill on Monday as it came to a standstill for the funeral of community activist Fergus McCabe.

The anti-drugs campaigner died last Thursday age 71 after a lengthy illness and a large gathering of people turned out to bid him a fond farewell.

His beloved ‘Inner City Song’ was sung by mourners lining the cortege route from Fairview Strand to Glasnevin cemetery.

During the intimate service, which was streamed live, his daughter Ella said: “Driving here today and seeing people line the streets, wishing him well and singing the Inner City Song was just breathtaking.

“He would have absolutely loved it.”

Among those paying tribute at the weekend was President Michael D Higgins who described Marino native Fergus as “the beating heart” of inner city Dublin.

He said community activist and social worker Fergus, who worked tirelessly in his crusade against the drugs scourge, chose “hope over cynicism”.

President Higgins said: “The great gift of Fergus McCabe was his genius in moving commitments on paper into the practical lives of members of communities.

“[His family] can be extremely proud of the legacy he has left, through his tireless campaigning for social justice and his exemplary actions of solidarity, sustained by his unshakeable belief in the good of mankind.”

Fergus spearheaded the Inner City Organisations Network (ICON) and the City-Wide Drugs Crisis Campaign.

He was also actively involved in helping to promote positive lifestyles for youth-at-risk with such organisations as Young People At Risk, the National Substance Misuse Strategy Committee and the National Oversight Group on the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy.

His campaign against heroin use helped transform Ireland’s laws and foreshadowed the creation of the Criminal Assets Bureau and a series of official efforts to tackle drug-related problems.

As a mark of respect the ICON offices in Dublin remained closed on Monday October 12.

Dublin politicians including Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon and Labour’s Aodhán Ó Ríordáin also paid tribute.

His is survived by his wife Helena and his children Ella, Kathy and Eoin, who requested that mourners simply “please help a friend” in lieu of flowers.

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