Ilske Roeland (1950-2020), rebellious lady who arranged everything at the Binnenhof

Ilske Roeland.

As party secretary of GroenLinks, she bought a beautiful dress for party leader Ria Beckers, who had no interest in fashion, for an election debate in 1989. Because Ilske Roeland had taste. She was a real Hague lady.

“If you had worn that dress, nothing would have happened,” said Peter Lankhorst, who succeeded Beckers in 1993 as leader of GroenLinks, at Roelands funeral. But it didn’t suit Ria. It was too chic with the jewelry. They immediately realized this at the PvdA.

Ilske Roeland spent her entire life at the Binnenhof – as party secretary of the PPR and GroenLinks, as director of the Kamerrestaurants and as an event manager who arranged election debates and visits by foreign dignitaries to parliament. In the obituary in de Volkskrant she was described as ‘Resident of the Binnenhof 1973-2016’.

‘A striking description,’ says her friend Bertien den Dulk. Everyone knew her because of her appearance and the interest she had in everyone. And she knew everyone because she heard all the news in the smoking room. ‘ Lankhorst: ‘She knew better than anyone how the political and administrative hares ran. She knew the rules of the game, those of life, politics and those of the civil service. But then she started playing with those rules wonderfully. ‘

She died of esophageal cancer in The Hague on 12 September. She retired four years ago. Numerous political leaders were on that farewell, as were representatives of the media and the civil service.

She was born in Vogelwijk in The Hague as an afterthought in a family with three girls. Her father ran a photo offset business. ‘She was a cheerful and smart girl. But I am nine years older. When she left primary school, I had already left home, ‘says her sister Marja.

High school was not very much for her. But she eventually completed a secretary course at Schoevers. In the early 1970s, she applied for the position of party secretary of the PPR, a division of the KVP, which was then still headed by Bas de Gaay Fortman.

She came from a liberal background, but with her openness and rebellious character she won the hearts of the left-wing MPs. In a splinter party like the PPR she was soon part of the faction, someone who felt the political game flawlessly.

Even when the PPR was merged into GroenLinks, it played an important role as a binding force, because it knew how vulnerable a merged party was. In the 1990s she switched from the political business to the civil service.

First she was director of the Kamerrestaurants, later she became head of the agency that organizes more than a hundred events at the Binnenhof every year: from chess tournaments to recess drinks. Journalist Jasper Gramsma says she knew how to approach things and was practical. ‘And that made her ideally suited for that position.’

Bertien den Dulk says that Ilske was also a barrel of contradictions – someone who wanted to live sustainably, but burned a pile of wood in her fireplace every evening. “She always wanted to be in control, but when she got sick she let everything take its course.”

She was an evening and night person. She loved to dance and go out and she attended the chic club PIP in The Hague, located on Binckhorstlaan.

Ilske Roeland was married once and then also had a longer relationship. She lived alone with her cats for the last eighteen years.