It is easy to provide a long list of Senator Feargal Quinn’s achievements and contributions as his business career and time in public service have been highly lauded and successful. He was head of one of the more innovative Irish businesses of the last fifty years, Superquinn, which introduced, amongst many other things: meat traceability for its customers, the first Irish supermarket customer loyalty card and a very strong customer focussed organisation, evident from his 1990 publication “Crowning the Customer”. In addition, he brought a commercial sensibility as chairman of An Post, which had previously been part of the state’s joint post and telegraphs provider. His contribution to this ensured that the fledgling state organisation focussed more on providing customer relevant processes and products.
He was first elected to the Seanad in 1997 and has been re-elected ever since. He has been an extremely active member and at present he is campaigning for the Seanad’s retention. Since his first election he has been a regular producer of social and commercial legislation and his membership of the upper house of the Oireachtas has made a discernible difference to its operations. He seems to prefer quietly building a consensus and so is popular amongst many in that part of the Oireachtas. There have been many other awards, including honorary doctorates from UCD and the NUI, but what stands out most about Feargal Quinn is his personal impact on others.
A former Superquinn worker, Aideen Pollard McManus, quoted recently in journal.ie, said that:
“I worked in Superquinn part time in the early eighties …. We were very well treated and the pay was good. Feargal was a great boss who made a great effort to get to know his staff. I worked in Northside, as did my sister, and I’ll always remember at the time of the Stardust tragedy how he treated staff and customers with such compassion and dignity. He promised everyone who was injured that their jobs were safe until they were able to come back. He even gave jobs to siblings of staff who were injured to ensure that there was some income coming into their homes.”
This is the mark of the man; humane, considerate and aware of commercial goals not exclusively grounded in profits. This sense of public service continued in Feargal Quinn’s aptly named television series “Feargal Quinn's Retail Therapy” which helped local businesses compete with much larger rivals and also when he worked with a team of experts to help local economies in the series “Local Heroes - A Town Fights Back”.
What stands out most about Feargal Quinn is that in every aspect of his life he has made a sustained and immense contribution to those around him. Without his generosity of spirit the lives of many workers and many citizens would not have been as good. These are just some of the many things he has done for Irish business and society and for this he is deemed very worthy of being the 2013 recipient of the Irish Academy of Management’s Whitaker Award.