I finally managed to make a plugin for Colloquy, the IRC client I use on the Mac. The plugin grants channel operator status to my friends when they join the channel.
My first stab at this plugin caused the version prior to 2.1 to crash. 2.1 seems to work, almost. Colloquy does not pass input from plugins thru the same parser which processes commands like /op, so it seems to be necessary to send raw IRC protocol command to give ops. Thanks for Juha Autero for his help.
You can download the plugin. Put it in Application Support/Colloquy/Plugins