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Hans Bos at Irene Doutney's Memorial

We had a beautiful memorial for Irene, many friends came and spoke beautiful things about her, here is Hans Bos' contribution.

Irene Doutney was my friend. She was the best friend I ever had.

We met up again after not seeing each other for some years and she told me she had become active in community work and activism on behalf of the Redfern Community.

Sometime later she told me she was being asked to stand for Council by the Greens. I said well,” with your background Ill laugh my head of if you get in”. Yes,” so will I she said”. We all know what happened from there.

Some years later she called me very distressed and told me something had occurred that would destroy her career. “I messed up and they are going to dig up my past and throw me to the lions”, she said.
I said well look, you’ve always been on much better terms with the lions rather than the keepers so I think you will manage this one too. As her brother, Charles mentioned at the funeral, not only did she manage it but she emerged stronger from it. And strength she had in reserve, when Irene found a cause worth fighting for there was no stopping her.

I watched her several times, it was an amazing transformation to watch this demure quietly spoken lady walk up to a microphone and turn into an erupting volcano when she opened her mouth to speak. On many social issues Irene was a force to be reckoned with, especially vocal on community housing, support for the homeless, and those disadvantaged and less able to have a voice. Irene always looked with a view to support someone else and never gave any thought to advancing her own position.

After she was diagnosed with her terminal condition and had to step down from her position I asked her if she was scared and if I could do anything to help. “who is going to take care of my cat” was all she said, not I’m dying or how is this going to play out, just “who’s going look after my cat’. Well I have your cat now darling and I promise I will take good care of her.

After I started caring for her there was a constant flow of visitors and Irene drew much strength and encouragement from that. As her illness progressed and her condition deteriorated she got great support from her brother Charles who a pillar of strength and of great comfort to her, and Charles I am not sure I would have been able finish nursing her without your support and guidance. During several stays in hospital Irene also drew much strength from visitors expressing their support.

At several instances she mentioned Clover Moore. She is a hard nosed business woman when she needs to be, but she has a good heart and she is a very kind and generous person and she has been very kind to me she said. I mention this as Irene on more than one occasion mentioned how privileged and humbled she felt at being chosen for deputy mayor, and I feel she would have wanted me to acknowledge this.

Some of the other people especially supportive of her, Ben and Sylvie, Jenny Leong, Gillian, Catherine, Rosie and Robin, Darelle, and many others too many to name here, you kept her going and gave her much comfort when things got really tough.

I have lost the best friend I ever had, Irene was my soul mate and it has left a large hole in my life, but as I mentioned at the funeral, my loss is really insignificant compared to what the community and the City of Sydney has lost.

There are not enough Irene’s in this world, and just one of her was never enough to go around.

Thank you all for your kind support.