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 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí (Atógáil) - Leaders' Questions (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] Waiting lists for hospital procedures on hips, eyes, knees and cataracts and for angiograms have fallen every month for almost a year and half. They are now lower than they were when the Government came to office because we used the private sector to augment our public services. It makes sense to do that on occasion.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady The LES could have been scaled up.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar If if had been possible to take hundreds or thousands of extra staff into the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection during a period of high unemployment, what we would do with them now? Would we let them go? It makes sense to provide public services through the public sector and, on occasion, to augment services with a private provider.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is the reason the Taoiseach did everything he could to stop it initially.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar That is not true.

Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before calling on Members to offer their tributes to our two departed former colleagues, I would like to welcome the families of Paddy Harte and Monica Barnes to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, including Paddy's widow, Rosaleen; his sons, Paddy, Garrett, Emmett and Jimmy; his daughters Mary, Anne and Róisín; and Jimmy's wife. So too, is Monica's daughter Sarah and her granddaughter Ailbhe. You are all very welcome. This is a sad day for you all but I hope that the support and memories that are shared here in Leinster House will serve to support you as we pay tribute to two much respected and distinguished former Members.

Paddy Harte often tilled a lonely piece of rugged Donegal furrow in his search for dialogue and lasting peace on our island. He was a generous public representative and a man of political courage and determination, often going against the political grain to extend the hand of friendship across a divided land. We often forget how many sacrifices, ideological, philosophical and political had to made in the long barb-strewn path to peace on this troubled land. Paddy Harte walked a step ahead of history and we owe him a debt of thanks for the courageous use of his role as a legislator to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of Irish men and Irish women. It is particularly good to see Paddy's son, Jimmy, with us here today.

Monica Barnes represented Dún Laoghaire for many years, but also typified a long and distinguished tradition within Fine Gael of social activism and progressive practical steps to better the lives of men, women and children both in her south Dublin constituency and nationally. I have spoken on a number of occasions this year at events marking 100 years since women's suffrage. This right was won a mere four generations ago, which is shocking to remember. The right to place a democratic mark on the ballot paper was won with a struggle not given generously by the men of 1918. With dignity and tenacity, Monica carried on that struggle to see a fairer, more equal society, not only for women but for all Irish citizens. Like Paddy, she often argued causes which did not have full or popular support at the time that she served in this Chamber but the strength of her conviction, coupled with the warmth of her personality and willingness to engage with all sides of the House, ensured that she was respected for her views and listened to by all, even those who differed radically with her. It is a real strength of character to be able to disagree agreeably. She was a skilled parliamentarian, fighting for many causes. Personally, I think her greatest testament will be to continue the fight begun in 1918 when Countess Markievicz was elected to the House of Commons in Westminster and took her seat instead in the first Dáil. That work continues but we remember today Monica's crucial role in the fight for a better Ireland.

Both Paddy and Monica served this House with distinction and fortitude. As Ceann Comhairle, I offer my renewed condolences to their families, who should take great comfort in the patriotism shown by both Paddy and Monica.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am grateful for this opportunity to offer my condolences and pay tribute to two people who served this country with honour and distinction. They both helped us as a country to come to terms with our history and in doing so enabled us to build a better future.

Paddy Harte was an architect of peace and reconciliation on our island, building bridges across communities. His lasting achievement is the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines, made possible by working with people from different backgrounds, different perspectives and different traditions for a greater good. It is a reminder of the shared history on our island and a symbol of hope for the future. Paddy Harte helped us to decommission sectarian views about our history and educated us about how we can remember and commemorate the sacrifices of the past with honour. It is remarkable that in a political career which spanned 36 years in this House and a short but successful stint as a Minister of State that nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. He was a gentleman who always saw the good in others, an approach that helped dismantle barriers on both sides of the Border. If things turned out differently, Paddy Harte might have spent his life as a successful butcher in Donegal but instead he served the people of Donegal north east a different way, by turning his own home into a railway station and always welcoming people who needed help. Paddy Harte will be remembered as a patriot who reminded us that love of country does not require us to hate anyone else. It is a lasting legacy. Today, we remember his wife, Rosaleen, their children, Mary, Paddy, Anne, Jimmy, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny, Garrett and Emmett and their 24 grandchildren and many friends. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

In recent months, we have also paid tributes in this House to whistleblowers who stood up for the truth at great personal cost. In many ways, Monica Barnes was a political whistleblower. She was someone I knew personally and someone who called time on a culture that was, in her words, "bleak, guilt ridden, repressed". Often she was criticised and sometimes she was harassed but she never wavered. Monica Barnes led the way with courage and good humour, always polite, always seeking a better way. She was a fearless campaigner for change in the way she championed women's rights and the way she demanded that care and compassion be shown to people in difficult situations. She was a pioneer of social liberalism in my own party, a founding member of the Council for the Status of Women, a Senator, a Deputy faithfully representing the people of Dún Laoghaire and she was an inspiration for many people around the country, in particular young people and young women in Fine Gael and beyond.

I feel though that if she were with us here today she would not let us get away with nice tributes without acknowledging that we have still so much more to do. We have much more to do before we realise her vision for Ireland and we will do that and remember that her courage and determination helped point the way for us. Today, our sympathies are with her husband Bob, their daughters Sarah and Joanne, her sister Angela and brother Colm, as well as their grandchildren, extended family and friends. We also remember her beloved son Paul, who sadly predeceased her.

Monica's family and friends can be proud of a true political pioneer who helped to make our country a much kinder, more modern and overall better place.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Polaiteoir gníomhach grámhar ab ea Paddy Harte. Fear lách, láidir, agus neamhspleách a bhí ann. Thuig sé tábhacht gach traidisiún ar an oileán seo. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir Dhún na nGall, ar son mhuintir na tíre seo, agus chun síocháin a chur ar bun ar an oileán.

Paddy Harte has left a lasting mark on Irish politics not only through his work as a Deputy representing the people of Donegal north east but as a builder of bridges. As Fine Gael spokesperson on Northern Ireland he was a politician who engaged meaningfully with all traditions and people from all backgrounds. In that respect, he was ahead of his time. He dedicated much of his life to public service and he was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1961 to 1997, a span that encompassed the worst of the death and destruction in Northern Ireland.

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