By Stephen Cooper
That’s the most fitting title for one of Ulster’s finest sons.
He stood beside me through thick and thin, and in council, as a lone TUV stalwart, Jimmy always had my back and would second anything I proposed, which enabled me to speak and propose and table notices of motions.
Along with Jimmy and myself, and the so-called naughty corner, accomplices involved were Tom Smith, and Joe Boyle, we had some laughs and some mischief, but most of all, WE GOT THINGS DONE.
As we tore strips off each other, (after all, Joe is SDLP, Jimmy and I are supposed to be the extreme opposite), we attended both of Joe’s parent’s funerals and were treated so favourably and with the utmost respect from family and friends.
When I was critically ill, Joe went out of his way to call my parents, and the difference was, that he cared.
Jimmy epitomised that very trait.
I drove, and he talked incessantly on his phone, in fact, I don’t know why he bothered, the people could hear him from my car from miles.
We attended countless committee meetings, council meetings, meetings about meetings and more, but all the way through, he was a dependable, stoic man, and a loyal son of Ulster.
His humour and candour were unparalleled, the number of times we went to meetings and he went into the office staff and announced himself was a constant irritation to me, but in the end, endearing as it was, he would just wink at me as we walked to whatever meeting room and I would mimick and say, ‘I’m Jimmy Menagh, look at me’ in the inbetweeners wee voice which would crack him up, adding the ‘friends’ joke, for those who get the context.
He loved Newtownards, and I will never forget when the naming of the new leisure centre came up, officers had plans for the name, but we had different motives.
Blair Mayne, the legendary sportsman and not too shabby soldier had been muted, and to cut a long story short, I had written a speech for Jimmy to propose the name.
I said, ‘don’t be letting on, this is your proposal.’
The second paragraph, he turns to me and says, ‘what’s that word, son?’
The council chamber sniggered, but, again, we won through and Ards Blair Mayne and well-being centre being named after military and sporting legend is down to his legacy.
I have so many more stories I could recount, but I will leave it until a future date when JB can accommodate.
His humour and his devotion to his constituents were unsurpassed.
A man that cared about so many, and was loved by so many will be missed by so many.
I will miss him enormously.
A true lion.
He may sleep tonight, but we will fight on against the enemies of Ulster.