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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 Thomas Pringle: Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle] This year's repeal of the eighth amendment is a great tribute to her work and her foresight in opposing the amendment when it came in first. That has to be noted. On behalf of our group, I wish to express our condolences to her family.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath On behalf of the Rural Independents and on my own behalf, I would like to express our sympathies on the deaths of two former parliamentarians of some renown. We offer our sympathies to their families and indeed to the Fine Gael Party, to Monica's daughters and her husband, Bob, and others. The former Senator and Deputy was described by her daughter, Sarah, as an open and optimistic person and that she most definitely was. Although she and I had many differing views, I salute her courage and her integrity in standing up for what she believed in with passion and conviction. To her husband and family I offer our sincere sympathies for their loss.

I worked with Paddy Harte in television and on radio and listened to his debates. To the Harte family, his wife Rosaleen, and, of course, the former Senator, Jimmy Harte, with whom I served on the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, I offer our sympathies. Paddy Harte came in here in 1961 and successfully contested 11 further general elections. That was no mean achievement. He was a colourful character and very passionate. His son, Jimmy, also distinguished himself when he was here and we miss him. I certainly miss Jimmy's company and his kind advice.

Paddy was involved in many projects after he retired. The biggest one of all was the Island of Ireland Peace Park, which was opened by no less than the President of the day, Mary McAleese, Prince Albert of Belgium and Queen Elizabeth. He always pursued peace, long before it was fashionable, in the peace process and in tough and challenging times. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anamacha dílse an bheirt iarTheachtaí.

Deputy Catherine Martin: Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin On behalf of the Green Party and on behalf of the Oireachtas women’s parliamentary caucus, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, relatives and friends of Monica Barnes.

Ba mhaith liom ómós a thabhairt do Mhonica Barnes, laoch pearsanta domsa agus bean a bhí ar an scoil chéanna liomsa. Mar Sheanadóir agus mar Theachta, las sí soilse do mhná sa pholaitíocht nuair a bhí sé an-deacair dúinn dul chun cinn a dhéanamh. Sa seacht mí ó cailleadh í tá cácas na mban ag dul ó neart go neart, agus tá rian agus oidhreacht Mhonica le braith iontu siúd.

Monica was a towering figure, a woman who made a difference and left a lasting impression, a fearless advocate. It is crucial that we remember that she was a fearless advocate in a very different time, in a less kind Ireland, in what was at the time a judgmental Ireland. It was a completely different place. But it never deterred her pioneering voice from articulating in a most persuasive way what she believed in.

On a personal note, I have lost a fellow past pupil from our shared alma mater in the Barony of Farney, namely, St. Louis secondary school in Carrickmacross. Monica travelled to school from the neighbouring town of Kingscourt, as did many of my school friends when I was a student in St. Louis. As a young pupil there, I found her inspirational and we were very proud that she was the first past pupil from our school to be elected to Dáil Éireann. The last time I spoke to Monica was in Áras an Uachtaráin on International Women’s Day this year, when we took a photo together to mark the fact that we were the two past pupils of St. Louis who were elected to the Dáil.

When I established the Oireachtas women’s parliamentary caucus last year, Monica’s campaigning voice was ever present. More importantly, her belief and support were invaluable and unwavering in reminding us in the caucus that although we may have come far since her days in Leinster House and have increased our representation in the Oireachtas, there is a long way to go. While we have all lost a dear friend, the greatest tribute we can make to Monica is to continue her pioneering work for women. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

On behalf of the Green Party, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Paddy Harte. I concur with the comments made by others. The President recently spoke of the State's at times selective amnesia but Paddy Harte was never in that category. In respect of true reconciliation, he was ahead of his time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I would like to pay tribute to Paddy Harte, with whom I had the pleasure of serving here. The main purpose of my few words, however, is to speak about my ex-colleague from Dún Laoghaire, Monica Barnes. Monica was just unique in that there was no tradition in how she went about doing things. We stood together in 1981 and twice in 1982 - three elections in 18 months. She was eventually elected in November 1982 and served here for that term, until 1987, and served another term up to 1992. Then she retired. However, an election came along in 1997 and I decided I would call over to her. We each had the unique pleasure of living side by side in Arnold Park in a five-seat constituency. Arnold Park consists of approximately 80 or 90 houses and the residents had two sitting Deputies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Did you split the vote?

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We had to split the vote, yes.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It was split 50-50.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett She got the female vote and I got the male vote. In any event, I called over to her, even though she had retired at that stage, and asked her if she would be interested in standing again. She said "Okay, I will." We set about it and she went off on her merry rounds. I never knew where she was and did not care where she was going because that is the type of candidate she was. We did not divide up the territory. She had her own people and, sure enough, she was re-elected.

It was a unique experience to serve with somebody like that, especially in this day and age of cutthroat politics. People are always asking each other if they were at this public meeting or if they are attending that funeral. Monica went her way and I went mine. There were times, of course, when she would not agree with some of my views on some issues. However, most of the time I could fully agree with her way of thinking. It was a unique experience to serve with somebody like that in politics. It is a lesson to those who are thinking of coming into politics. They do not have to wear a banner around their necks. They can enter politics and say what they truly believe. If a candidate truly believes in something, he or she does not need a manifesto to knock on a door. People should say what they believe in. That is what Monica did. The best tribute I can pay to her is that she is the best example of somebody who stood up and said what she believed. Sometimes I did not agree with her but most of the time she had a way that I had to agree with her. I have to admit that as - at that time - a youngish, conservative-type candidate, I learned an awful lot from her. I learned that I had to be a bit liberal in this country and in this day and age. I extended my liberalism way beyond where I thought I would.

Monica made a huge contribution to Irish public life.

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