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 Header Item Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] It stands in stark contrast to the equivalent board in the United Kingdom, where marine casualty investigation experience is a prerequisite and a requirement. We must have a similar situation in this jurisdiction in order to protect the integrity of the process and ensure that no stone is left unturned for the loved ones left behind in cases involving marine accidents with fatalities. They happen, unfortunately, and it is a tragedy but we need to have the fullest possible investigations as well as expertise on this board which sadly we do not have.

I want to express my heartfelt admiration to the O'Brien and Esmonde families, who have persisted in their campaign for answers for almost a decade. It is so harrowing. In particular, I want to mention John's sister, Anne-Marie, who is with us here today with her dad, who has never given up the fight for justice and who looks after the late John's children every second weekend and is a great source of strength. We have young families left without a dad and no proper answers. John and Anne-Marie's families and the family of Patrick Esmonde can rightly be proud of the work Anne-Marie has done and will continue to do. I thank other colleagues who have supported her.

I am hugely disappointed with the Garda investigation, or lack of one. I want to thank the Minister, Deputy Ross, of whom I am often critical, as he visited Anne-Marie in her home, listened to her and is interested in making changes here. I certainly hope the Bill can be accepted by the Government and can be dealt with sensitively and appropriately.

I also want to welcome the Killilea family here today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is the Bill being opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher We will move to expressions of sympathy on the death of our former colleague, Mark Killilea. Before calling the leaders of the parties, I have the pleasure and the opportunity to express my sympathy to his wife, Anne, and to his family who are here with us, including his children, Éidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín; his sisters Vera and Bríd; and his brother-in-law, Éamon O'Donoghoe, who was Superintendent of the Houses of the Oireachtas for years.

Mark was a man of the people. He was a hard-working public representative. His father was here for 34 years, from 1927 to 1961. Mark worked at all levels in politics, at council level, in the Seanad, as a Deputy, as a Minister and as an MEP. It is important to remember that he was a quaestor in the European Parliament and was elected by colleagues across the political divide.

He distinguished himself in every chamber he represented the people of Galway or Connacht-Ulster. I had the pleasure of working with Mark in Europe and in the Dáil Éireann. Mark had a long and distinguished career. As an MEP, he majored in agricultural and rural affairs and worked closely with a former colleague in this House, Ray MacSharry, who was a European Commissioner at that time.

He was a great mentor to me when I went to Europe in 1994 after an exciting campaign. Some of the people in Connacht-Ulster will remember that. He was generous with his time when showing me the workings of the European Parliament and the committee system.

In politics, as in life, we are fortunate if we meet people with exceptional qualities. Mark Killilea was naturally gifted, talented, sincere and generous with his time. When one meets someone like that, one always remember them. I remember well our first campaign in 1994. When I go west, I still hear Tina Turner in my ear, singing "Simply the Best". He felt he was simply the best and it was an exciting campaign.

It is popular to build walls now. Mark Killilea, while he was good at everything, he was not great at the geography of Ireland. He had an imaginary wall-----

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary The Leas-Cheann Comhairle was not too good at it himself.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher -----around Donegal.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath One could not get a wall big enough for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher One could go no further, but I say that in jest. We were great friends, we survived that and had a great life together.

  Let me clarify once and for all that it was Mark Killilea who said that he represented those who ate their dinner in the middle of the day. Ar lámh dheis Dé atá a anam uasal dílis.

  As is customary, I call on the Fianna Fáil Party leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, to speak, as Mark Killilea is a deceased member of that political party.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Duine agus polaiteoir den scoth ab ea Mark Killilea. Tírghráthóir a bhí ann. Duine a thuig tábhacht an ghnáthdhuine agus bhí Mark dílis dá mhuintir féin agus dá dhúiche féin. Bhí suim dháiríre faoi leith aige i gcúrsaí reatha na tíre. Feirmeoir cumasach a bhí ann agus d'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son fheirmeoirí agus mhuintir na tuaithe ar fud na tíre. Fear cineálta, cairdiúil, grámhar ab ea é. bhí sé páirteach in an-chuid rudaí agus go háirithe bhí grá faoi leith i gcúrsaí Chumann Lúthchleas Gael agus go háirithe Cumann Chora Finne, mar is eol dom féin. Bhí sé gnóthach in a lán rudaí agus bhí a lán cairde aige ach gan amhras bhí sé éifeachtach agus bhain sé an-chuid rudaí amach i rith a shaoil.

  Mark Killilea was born in 1939, one of six children, in Ballinamore Bridge outside Ballygar. He was born into an intensely political family, a family that believed in developing an inclusive Ireland and a society that afforded opportunities to all, and he loved his country. He often spoke fondly of his late father who was also called Mark, who as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said was first elected as a Deputy in the 1920s and served right up to the late 1960s, which was an extraordinary career in itself. Mark's father was an extraordinary man. He was a farmer and was an active member in the War of Independence and a founding member of Fianna Fáil. He was a person from that great generation that laid the foundations of the State.

  It is not surprising then, given that public service ethos in the family and that commitment to country, that Mark himself would enter the political arena. Prior to politics, he too was a farmer, a beet grower, an auctioneer, an agricultural contractor and an extraordinarily multi-talented individual. I have listened to some of his interviews. He started out as a councillor, became a Senator in 1969 and a Deputy in 1977. He was a very effective Minister of State with responsibility for posts and telegraphs and he was a Member of the European Parliament from 1987 to 1999.

  He too believed in public service and was a member of many organisations and had a particular love of the Gaelic Athletic Association and his beloved Corofin GAA club, which has achieved so much. Mark was a very gregarious and charismatic person and politician and drew people towards him. One of his great friends in politics, Ray MacSharry, summed up Mark very well when he said:

Markeen was friendly, humble, sharp, alert and confident. He was always a family man, a community man, a sportsman, and a great public servant.

  As the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said, it was Mark who, when describing Fianna Fáil supporters, because the interviewer at the time had asked who were these people, said he represented the people who ate their dinner in the middle of the day. When one met Mark, one always remembered his relaxed witty and straight talking ways. When I became leader of Fianna Fáil, he was not slow to pick up the phone to give me advice on potential candidates, strategy and so on. He give it to one straight because he had a passion about renewing and recovering the party.

  Over the last few days I listened to his interviews. In his early days, as a councillor, he chaired the health board.

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