Wednesday, 25 September 2013

RIP: Dan Murphy

The speeches reprinted here are available in Hansard, but you have to dig down and get them, so I'm placing a copy on my blog. Dan was an old friend of my father from the time when they both worked at the Walford Merchant Bank (in those days, he was affectionally called "Spud") and he remembered me from those days when we bumped into each other on a few occasions this year. He was supportive of my blog postings in favour of retaining the Constables, and while I did not see eye to eye with him on all issues, I respected his integrity, and enjoyed the occasional put downs to members who should have done their homework. Here's a classic example:

Connétable D.J. Murphy of Grouville: Could I ask the Deputy to allow me to intervene?  Can you just tell me what wealth has to do with standing for Senator?
Deputy M. Tadier: Let me explain, because perhaps it is a difficult concept for the wealthy Members in this Assembly.  An election campaign costs you, perhaps, £8,000 to run.
The Connétable of Grouville: Sorry, it is all limited and capped.
Deputy M. Tadier: You can spend up to £8,000 ... can P.P.C. give some clarification?  What is the current expenditure limits for Senatorial elections?
The Connétable of Grouville: If you do not know what you are saying, you should not say it.

So here is - first - the Liberation Day speech by Dan Murphy given in 2012. It is so good that he gave this speech, and shared some of his personal memories and experience, the more so, because he is no longer with us. I know something is done in the way of archives, but I think a lot more could be done to preserve the memory, in sound and perhaps transcript, of those Islanders who were here during the dark days of the German Occupation. They are all getting older, and like Dan, won't be with us much longer, and their memories will die with them.
The second is the Bailiff's Eulogy given to the States when they first sat this September, the first sitting after Dan's death, which also fills in his background and the esteem in which he was held, and also contains an interesting Occupation anecdote.
Connétable D.J. Murphy of Grouville:
Your Excellency, Lady McColl, Bailiff, Mrs. Birt, members of the Royal Court, Crown Officers, Members and distinguished guests.
When I was asked by the Bailiff to give the Liberation Day address on behalf of this Assembly I was pleased and honoured. Then, when it came to putting my thoughts on paper, I truly appreciated the enormity of the task of not just encompassing my personal feelings but also respecting those of my contemporaries, the Islanders - living, and no longer with us - who lived through the Occupation.
Liberation Day today is a time for happiness, of celebrating our democratic freedoms and showing gratitude to the ordinary people who, when faced with adversity, found within themselves the extraordinary resolve required to win the fight - whether in a theatre of war or on the home front. As British forces make the ultimate sacrifice yet again in a conflict overseas, there is much debate about what constitutes a hero. Is it the soldier who selflessly risks death to win a battle, save colleagues or civilians under threat; or is it a civilian - the ordinary men, women and even children - who, when circumstances dictate, are prepared to lay their lives on the line for the values we hold so dear?
Growing up in Jersey after the Liberation, and living in Grouville, from where so many brave Islanders escaped to France to take up the fight against the foe, it was those very escapees that were my heroes. Ordinary people from my home - growers, fishermen, the ordinary working man and wealthy land owners - who, in peacetime, resumed their everyday lives.
I arrived in this world on the day the Germans invaded the Island, 1st July 1940, at the family home near La Rocque Harbour 3 days after the bombing of La Rocque Harbour in which three inhabitants were killed. Those dark days, 72 years ago, were the most terrible and hopeless in the Island's long and rich history. In the wake of the defeat of the B.E.F. in France and the 'victory' snatched by the daring evacuation from the beaches of Dunkirk, it seemed to the world that our occupation was a portent for the rest of the British Isles. To all intents and purposes we were defeated in the face of overwhelming forces.
Well, we may have been down, but we were not 'out.' From that depth of despair rose ordinary people who were willing to stand up and be counted and, moreover, to fight back in whatever way they could. Our local heroes were many, too many to acknowledge all today by name. Yet I would like to single out the more than 140 brave Islanders who were determined to escape from the jackboot. The majority were successful but nine drowned, 24 were captured and put in prison, and 2l year-old Douglas Le Marchand was shot dead on the beach by the Germans.
Dennis Vibert made two attempts: finally succeeding by rowing around the islands and across the English Channel in September 1941. The distance from the 'Fauvic Embarkation' point to the French coast may have been far shorter but the deeds of those who escaped by this route, including Peter Crill, Roy Mourant and John Floyd, were equally courageous, as was the assistance of the families who lived on the shores of the Royal Bay of Grouville, such as the Payns and Bertrams, Le Claires who together with other islanders,such as the father of the present  Deputy of St John, Denis Ryan, who transported dinghies and equipment in his builder's lorry.
Then there were those who hid escaped slave workers, like Albert Bedane, honoured by Israel for hiding a Jewess in the cellar of his home in Roseville Street, or Louisa Gould who died in the gas chambers for showing human kindness to another mother's son. Yet it was the little acts that also counted.
Who today, in similar circumstances would defy the enemy by singing patriotic songs as Islanders, including babes in arms, were deported to internment camps in Germany, for simply being of British-origin? And does not the 14 year old boy who, on the same occasion, ran from the crowd, punched a German officer on the jaw before being swallowed up and protected by his fellows qualify for our admiration as much as the first wave of soldiers to land on the Normandy beaches?
But for the lottery of birth, my family would have been deported. My parents received 'the knock on the door' at night to be served the order to present their family at College House the next morning for deportation. Can you imagine their distress at the prospect of being torn from their family, home and friends to be forcibly transported into unknown enemy territory with no idea of when - or if - they would ever return? Only in later life, with a family of my own, did that terrible uncertainty strike home to me. They made the journey on foot, pushing me in the pram, with just one suitcase between them, only be told it was a mistake, as my father was Irish they could return home. In spite of such good news, Dad reacted with mixed feelings as, the night before, he had taken his hidden wireless out into the garden, smashed it to bits and buried the incriminating  evidence.  This is not an exaggeration as people were imprisoned or shot for lesser crimes under Hitler's Third Reich.
Liberation Day, Jersey's 'national' day, is one of mixed emotions. Today we shall grieve for and honour the memory of those who paid the highest price for freedom; we shall remember the good and bad times: we shall shed tears of sadness and laugh out loud at the funny stories of how Islanders got the better of the enemy, like my uncle Den who, in the dead of night broke the curfew to milk a goat kept by German soldiers next door so that in the end they sold it to him at a knock down price as they believed it was barren. This kept us children in fresh milk every day!
In remembering Islanders' outstanding acts of bravery - and sheer cheek - it is easy to forget the thousands of unsung heroes, the parents of young children - such as my own. Above all, I want to recognize and praise them today because somehow they overcame the most difficult of circumstances and adversity, first the shortages and then near starvation to feed and raise their children. In conclusion, I would like to draw on my Irish roots and the observation of the 18th century statesman, author and orator, Edmund Burke, who said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Fortunately for us, seven decades ago, good ordinary men and women were willing to do everything within their power to triumph over evil. We are forever in their debt. [Approbation] 
The Bailiff:
Members will of course be only too well aware that since our last sitting in July, we have lost one of our Members. I refer of course to the Connétable of Grouville, Mr. Dan Murphy. Although he had been absent from the sittings of the Assembly for a while because of illness, I think it came as a considerable shock to all of us when he passed away on 25th July.
Dan Murphy was born in Jersey on the first day of the Occupation and the midwife was apparently so concerned that he might be registered as a German national that she bicycled into town from La Rocque in order to register his birth immediately. In due course after leaving school, he followed a career in banking and then as a financial consultant.
He was elected as Connétable of Grouville in 2003, following the retirement through ill-health of Mr. Frank Amy, and he clearly had the confidence of his parish, because he was re-elected as Connétable 3 times thereafter. He loved his parish and worked hard in its service. He was very proud of the parish in Bloom achievements, particularly in 2007 when the parish won national awards. He was also a strong supporter of the twinning arrangements with Portbail, and the respect in which he was held is shown by the fact that the Mayor of that town and several of his officials travelled all the way to Jersey in order to attend the Connétable's funeral.
His interests of course extended far beyond his parish. In the States, he made good use of his financial expertise. He sat on the Public Accounts Committee for some 3 years and on the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel for some 7 and a half years up until his death. He also chaired the Tidal Power Steering Group, which reported in 2008. He was a strong advocate of the possibilities of tidal power and I have no doubt that his report will assist in due course in moving forward on issues of renewable energy.
In 2012 he was elected to represent the States in the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, having been an associate member since 2006, and he represented the Island at a number of conferences. It is clear that he impressed his colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly and did Jersey proud. Following his death, I received a letter from the British Co-Chair of the British-Irish Assembly stating how he was, and I quote: "A valued Member of the Assembly" and how they would miss his contributions to their debates and activities.
In the States, he was not one who spoke unnecessarily often, but when he did speak, he was capable of doing so in a very passionate and persuasive manner, and I am sure Members will recall the very moving and eloquent address which he gave on the occasion of Liberation Day back in 2012 last year.
Very often former Members who die have been retired from the States for many years and have not therefore overlapped with current Members. That of course is not the case here, as we have lost one of our current Members. Everyone will have their own recollections of him as a friend and as a colleague, but I am sure we would all agree that we have lost a respected Member of the Assembly who served his parish and his Island with devotion and with distinction. The respect and affection in which he was held by so many was shown by the packed church at his funeral. So on behalf of Members I express our condolences to his wife, Dawn, his daughter, Cara, and I ask Members to rise with me for a few moments in his memory. [Silence]

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