Love him or loathe him, Eamonn McCann has a quality too rarely seen in politics nowadays: integrity. The words he speaks have always come from the heart, not from what the latest opinion poll or focus group suggests is advisable.
He has championed causes long before they become popular. Playing it safe isn't in his DNA. He is principled, passionate and uncompromising in the best possible way.
At Stormont, he spoke and dressed with the same authenticity and defiance of his civil rights days. Not for him the suit of stultifying conformity, nor a set of cliches tailored for one tribe or the other.
In recent years, many politicians have moved to support same-sex marriage and abortion law reform as public opinion has shifted. McCann was on the streets demanding change decades ago.
His retirement from Derry City and Strabane District Council due to ill-health is a depressing moment. He had previously talked of standing in next year's Assembly election.
Eamonn lit up every debate to which he contributed.
At first, he found it hard to settle in Stormont. He was used to "operating in a freewheeling way".
It was "a bit of a culture shock" to be in a job which was "hedged around rules, regulations and protocols, many of which seem to be plain silly," he admitted.
But he found his feet, and the shame was that Stormont only had him for nine short months as he lost his seat in the 2017 poll.
The house on the hill badly needs more intelligent, independent and challenging voices.
In one exchange, Eamonn memorably clashed with the DUP over its attitude to homosexuality. "Who are they to save Ulster from sodomy? What's wrong with sodomy anyway?" he declared. "I would have kissed more men in my time if it wasn't for the stubble factor."
Who but McCann could have challenged the DUP so irreverently?
Yet he never reserved his barbs just for easy, predictable targets.
He rounded on Sinn Fein, the SDLP, and Women's Coalition for "abasing themselves" by meeting George Bush in 2003 when he held a war summit with Tony Blair in Hillsborough Castle.
He accused those parties of providing the pair with political cover to preach peace here while waging death and destruction in Iraq.
"We wouldn't have taken George Bush's hand at Hillsborough, except to twist it up his back and run him out the door," McCann thundered.
It wasn't just Republican presidents against whom he railed. "I see Hillary 'Drones R Us' Clinton is to hit these shores again, and the great and the good are queuing up to be patronised face-to-face," he wrote in the Belfast Telegraph in 2012.
"The usual commentators have been out and about heaping her with praise for the role in the peace process which she shamelessly exaggerated to the point of falsehood. But then shamelessness is a Clinton stock-in-trade.
"For as long as he remained in office, she wouldn't hear a word said against Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, even as the groans of the tortured arose from his dungeons. Give her her due - when it comes to hypocrisy the woman is world-class."
Closer to home, McCann called out the state terrorism of Bloody Sunday and paramilitary atrocities.
After John Hume's death last year, he wrote of the petrol bomb attacks on his home: "The intention was to burn the Hume family out. None of the Sinn Fein leaders who have gushed praise for John in the last few days has acknowledged this or ventured anything resembling an apology - 'We are all peace processors now'."
Eamonn has retired from electoral politics, not died, and I'm sure he's embarrassed by the tributes to him.
Let's hope there's a young firebrand out there to replace him.
Because McCann is, and always was, the man.