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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] He was Minister of State in the 1981 to 1982 Government in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, but he was not the type of politician who felt he needed ministerial status to make a contribution. Paddy made a major contribution through his involvement with the former UDA chief, Mr. Glenn Barr, in promoting the recognition of Irish people who died during World War I, and I believe he will be best remembered for that. He did this long before it was popular, and for the courage he showed in that regard he deserves our collective acclamation. His resolve to progress this issue not only recognised the sacrifice that Irish soldiers made in the Great War but also led to the building of the Island of Ireland Peace Park and round tower in Belgium. The work saw him awarded numerous accolades, including an honorary OBE and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the National University of Ireland, as well as being named European of the Year in 1998.

While he was a stalwart and steadfast member of Fine Gael, he was very much his own man. Indeed, when violence broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969 he crossed the floor of the House and met the then Taoiseach, Mr. Jack Lynch, to give him his advice and ideas on the unfolding crisis. It was this type of approach that won Paddy so many admirers on all sides of the House. A proud Donegal man, an Ulster man and an Irish man, I again extend my condolences to Paddy's wife Rosaleen and his nine children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Bean agus polaiteoir faoi leith ab ea Monica Barnes. Bá dhuine le prionsabail í a bhí chun tosaigh maidir le cearta sibhialta ginearálta agus cearta sibhialta mná na tíre seo ach go háirithe. Bhí sí tuisceanach, ceanúil, agus gníomhach in an-chuid feachtas le glúinte anuas. Monica Barnes was a courageous and outspoken voice in Irish politics at a time when progressive voices were few and far between. She was, in many respects, ahead of her time and always thought outside the box. She was a very proud feminist and was admired by many. A co-founder of the Council for the Status of Women in 1973, now the National Women's Council of Ireland, she and Mary Robinson, Gemma Hussey and Nuala Fennell were among the trailblazers for advancing women's rights in the 1970s. The liberal leadership of Garrett FitzGerald attracted her to Fine Gael and she was elected to Dáil Éireann in November 1982.

The following year she was one of two Fine Gael Deputies to oppose the wording of the legislation and the insertion of the eighth amendment in the Constitution. Monica agreed with the advice of the then Attorney General, the late Peter Sutherland. She was also a committed supporter of the 1986 referendum to remove the ban on divorce. While the causes dear to her heart did not have much success in the 1980s she was never disheartened and she retained her open and optimistic outlook on life. Although she advocated with passion for her beliefs she was never dismissive or intolerant of those with whom she disagreed. I echo the words of the Ceann Comhairle, that she was most agreeable in disagreeing with people. She was approachable, a very warm person and had a great sense of humour.

Fearless yet courteous, she made friends across the political spectrum and the loss of her seat in 1992 was greeted with disappointment by many outside Fine Gael. She never held ministerial office, although had she been a Deputy in 1994 when the rainbow Government took office it would have been hard to overlook her. She returned for a final term to represent Dún Laoghaire in 1997 before retiring in 2002. Sadly, she lost her son Paul to cancer the following year. She never lost her commitment to the causes for which she was passionate and was all set to campaign to repeal the eighth amendment earlier this year. It was not to be, however, and she passed away quietly and suddenly at home three weeks before the day of the referendum. I have no doubt that she inspired many other women to enter political life. This year we mark the centenary of women voting for the first time and Monica Barnes's life was a powerful example of what women can achieve in national life.

Monica's family's grief can be tempered with pride in her great achievements in public life. I offer my sincere sympathy and that of my party to her husband Bob, daughters Sarah and Joanne and her wider family, the Fine Gael Party.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Shinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde iarTheachta Paddy Harte, a fuair bás i mí Eanáir. On my own behalf and on behalf of Sinn Féin I extend sincere sympathies to the family and friends of former Teachta Paddy Harte, who passed away last January. As has been said, Paddy had a lengthy career in the Dáil, serving the people of his beloved Donegal for no less than 36 years from 1961 to 1997. It is an incredible record. During that time he served briefly as a Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs from 1981 to 1982. However, quite correctly, it is for his work on peace and reconciliation that Paddy will be best remembered, particularly his work in delivering the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Flanders which opened in 1998 and which commemorates all Irishmen who died during the First World War. It is a place I was pleased and moved to visit. It is a tribute to him.

There is much on which Paddy and I would have disagreed, but I have no doubt that there are also many things on which we would have seen eye to eye. In any event, his contribution to public life was immense. I join others in extending sympathy and condolences to his loved ones, his wife Rosaleen, his nine children Mary, Paddy, Anne, Jimmy, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny, Garrett and Emmett - a formidable clan - his other relatives and friends and his wider family and colleagues in Fine Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

Arís ar mo shon féin agus ar son Sinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde iarTheachta Monica Barnes, a fuair bás i mí Bealtaine. I also extend deep sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of former Teachta, Monica Barnes, who passed away in May. On the occasion of her passing I remarked in the House that she had always struck me as a very untypical member of Fine Gael, which was received as one might expect by her fellow members of Fine Gael. She served in the House for a lengthy period from 1982 to 1992 and again from 1997 to 2002. She was also briefly a Member of the Seanad in 1982.

She was undoubtedly one of the most courageous feminist voices of her time and in Irish political history. She was one of a small number of people who had the foresight, compassion and vision to stand against the eighth amendment when it was first proposed. I never met Monica Barnes. I wish I had as I really liked her. I had great admiration for her, and her record of public service speaks for itself. I recall as a young woman listening to her, watching her and being moved and inspired by her. I join with others in extending sympathy and condolences to her husband Bob, her daughters Sarah and Joanne, her siblings, grandchildren, other relatives and friends, as well as her colleagues in Fine Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It is my great privilege as well as my duty to pay tribute to two remarkable former Members of this House and two remarkable public servants I was privileged to know. At first glance, the two might have appeared to be very different people, and they were, but they shared extraordinary values, passionate views on what was right and passionate voices to articulate those views regardless of the opinion of their political party or the consensus. They stood by what was right. Those characteristics are truly important in public representatives.

Paddy Harte could be described as a peacemaker, as the Ceann Comhairle said. If one were to accord an attribute to any of us, to be called a peacemaker is among the highest accolades one could bestow.

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