The send off that his wife Roberta and daughter Alex gave him was exactly what he would have wanted. It’s only today that feel adequately recovered and able to put these words together.
I had a drink with him just before Christmas. He knew the end was coming and he talked about how his funeral should be. Trying to make light of a difficult discussion I suggested he may want a volley of shots over his coffin and he laughed at that. In the lead up to the funeral on Saturday I recounted this story and someone (name withheld) suggested that the volley of shots should be fired into the coffin to make sure that the fecker is really dead!
Jim could be an awful bollix. He could be difficult and obstinate and he could try the patience of a saint. But in my opinion his good points far outweighed the bad. He was kind, generous, great company and if you needed real help with any kind of problem, he would do absolutely his utmost best to see that you were sorted out.
If Jim Barbour was your friend you had a true and loyal friend for life. If you made an enemy of him, then you had a problem. He was an exceptional trade unionist and many firefighters in Northern Ireland have jobs and thousands of pounds behind them because of Jim Barbour’s commitment to his FBU responsibilities. I just know in my bones that he would have loved his funeral.
Good bye Comrade. I’ll miss your wisdom, craic and good humour but I’ll not miss the hangovers!
⏩Tony Maguire is a former trade union official with the Fire Brigades Union.