The sudden death of a young South Tipperary woman who was becoming a leading figure in world human rights affairs has stunned her family and friends in Ireland and abroad.
Diane Halley, who was known to her friends as Dee, was only 33 when she passed away on Easter Sunday in Prague, following a short illness.
The daughter of Michael and Miriam Halley, Clogheen, Diane had a twin sister Lynda, younger sister Crystal, and is also survived by her partner Andy.
Following several years working with an EU mission to bolster human rights in Palestine, Diane had helped to found the New Story Leadership Programme for the Middle East and was the programme’s European co-ordinator. The programme takes university students and recent graduates from Israel and Palestine, or students from those regions studying in the UK or USA, and over the course of a summer in Washing DC learning about how leadership can bring about peaceful change.
In September of 2009 Diane too on the role of ‘Human Rights Expert’ to the EU sponsored policing mission in the Palestinian Territories. The job was based in the West Bank.
She studied law at NUI Galway and was awarded a masters in international human rights law from University College London. For four years before she went to the Middle Easte, Diane worked as a human rights advisor to two Irish members of the European Parliament, Simon Coveney who was the human rights spokesperson for the largest groups in the parliament, the European People’s Party, and Colm Bourke with whom she travelled to Gaza and Chad.
Diane also spent time on a north-south internship project and worked as a project co-ordinator for an organisation that works to bring young Israelis and Palestinians together, in Washington DC.
Tributes to Diane poured in from around the world at the sad news of her passing.
Kevin Sullivan, Chairman of the Washington Ireland Program, said: “On behalf of the Board of the Washington Ireland Program and her many WIP friends I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Dee’s family for her untimely and sudden passing on Easter Sunday. Dee had many friends in Washington, Dublin, Belfast, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Prague and countless other cities and nations.
“She talked with great realism yet hopefully about the work ahead in helping to build NSL. She was a young woman at the top of her game with a great sense of purpose and drive. Dee was a wonderful example of living the WIP ethos – go out and do your bit, have a vision and don’t wait around for someone else to make it happen. May she rest in peace.”
Andrew Rabens of the US State Department said: “Truly saddened to hear the news about the loss of Diane Halley at the far too early age of 33 years old. Dee was a remarkable young woman with a huge heart and a passion for peace, particularly through her tireless work and commitment to coexistence in Northern Ireland and the Middle East.
Diane’s funeral took place last Sunday at St. Mary’s Church, Clogheen, with burial afterwards in Shanrahan Cemetery.