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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 Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh] I want to acknowledge his contribution and his commitment to the preliminary work done in advance of the signing of the peace agreement in 1998. He was very hands-on in relation to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and was very much involved in Sunningdale as well. He took risks as a politician, was ahead of his time and had a major impact. We are reaping the rewards of his work through the peace dividend we enjoy today.

I also wish to refer to Paddy's oidhreacht, meaning his legacy and heritage, and his wonderful appreciation of all things related to Donegal, Raphoe and the north west. In later years he spoke in very strong terms about his connections and his upbringing. His legacy in taking risks is something that we, as politicians, cannot forget. We must embrace the lessons learned from politicians like him. He was willing to put the politics of ambition and risk to the fore on behalf of the next generation and worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that people had better opportunities. He had a deep understanding of difference. When I was involved in peace and reconciliation work, I saw at first hand his efforts to try to understand both traditions and to bring people with him at a time many were entrenched in their views and positions.

I am also reminded of the insightful old Irish seanfhocal that I came across in Connemara - castar na daoine ar a chéile, ach ní chastar na cnoic ná na sléibhte - it is the people who meet together, not the hills and the mountains. The hills and mountains always drew Paddy Harte back but his overarching ambition was to bring people together through a deeper understanding of one another. He did that in a way that has left an enormous and rich legacy for the people and politicians who followed him.

I also wish to acknowledge Ms Monica Barnes through the words of my party colleague, former Deputy, Olivia Mitchell. I did not serve in this House with Ms Barnes but my colleague summed her up for me in three words: passionate, inspirational and generous. She was generous with her time and displayed an immense generosity of spirit. As Deputy Mitchell O'Connor said earlier, her passion for social change was unwavering and it was great for her, in her later years, to see the social change for which she fought for so long come to pass.

Ba mhaith liom arís mo bhuíochas agus m'aitheantas a chur chuig an dá theaghlach as an tiomantas agus an gealltanas thar na blianta atá imithe thart, go háirithe an tiomantas chuig an chéad ghlúin eile.

Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Tá áthas orm deis labhartha a fháil anseo inniu chun ár ómós a léiriú agus a thaispeáint do chlann Paddy Harte agus do chlann Monica Barnes. Chaith mé tréimhse fhada anseo i gcomhar le Paddy Harte agus Monica Barnes. Bhí mé sa Dáil le Paddy ar feadh 16 bliain agus ar Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall leis ar feadh 12 bliain. Ní raibh focal searbh idir an bheirt againn thar an tréimhse sin. Bhí Paddy ar taobh amháin agus mise ar an taobh eile, ach bhí caidreamh iontach eadrainn. Nuair a tháinig muid isteach anseo, bhíomar anseo mar Chonallaigh - seachas mar bhaill d'Fhianna Fáil nó Fine Gael - chun ár gcuid oibre a dhéanamh thar ceann na ndaoine i nDún na nGall a chuir muid anseo. Bhí ainm Paddy Harte fite fuaite le síocháin agus athmhuintearas, i bhfad sular cuireadh a leithéid ar bun go foirmeálta. Bhí Monica Barnes ag plé le cearta na mban ag an am céanna.

Paddy Harte was a great friend and a great Donegal representative for many years. I am delighted to acknowledge the presence of his wife, Rosaleen and his children, Paddy Jnr, Mary, Anne, Róisín, Garrett, Emmet, Eithne, and Johnny and not forgetting the former Senator, Jimmy Harte. I am sure I speak for everyone when I wish Jimmy continued progress and good health.

Paddy Harte was first elected in 1961 and held his seat until 1997. Therefore, for a short period in his later years here, he was father of the House. He took over from the late Neil Blaney, who died in 1995 and was highly respected. Not alone did he represent north-east Donegal, he also had the distinction of representing all of Donegal. Those of us who are old enough will remember that he was elected to represent the great constituency of Donegal in 1977. I was youngish at the time and not yet a member of the council. I remember meeting him at the Butt Hall at that famous count in 1977. I served with him on the council from 1979 until 1991. As I said in Irish earlier, there was never a sharp word between us through all of those years, which is the way it should be. I came with one party flag and Paddy Harte came with another but when we came to Dublin, we wore the Donegal jersey with pride and carried the Donegal flag. Of course, working together as Deputies makes us stronger.

Paddy Harte can be described as a committed politician, an advocate of justice and fairness and a true Donegal man. He never missed an opportunity to put issues affecting Donegal forward over the years and to make the case for further investment in our native county. I do not know what he would have to say now if he had to abide by the two-minute, seven-minute or ten-minute rule. One did not have to respect it in those days-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl There are not too many who respect it now either.

Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher When Paddy Harte spoke here, he spoke with both passion and commitment. He was always known in this House for his good counsel and advice. He was one for reaching out to others to advance different causes, not only in Leinster House but in practical ways and on many different occasions.

Paddy Harte, in both politics and private life, will be remembered for highlighting the importance of co-existence. He grew up and lived by the Border during the difficult years but he reached out. He was reaching out to unionists in Northern Ireland long before it became popular to do so. He took many risks over the years and promoted peace on the island of Ireland. As many have said, this was demonstrated by the opening of Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines. He did not just turn up on the famous day when it was opened by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, the Queen of England and the King of Belgium. He had been working on that project for years prior to the opening day. He initiated FÁS schemes through which people went out to Messines to build that monument. I was very honoured to be there as well on that famous day.

I must acknowledge Paddy Harte on a personal level, on my own behalf and that of my wife and her sister, whom he visited on many occasions over the years. That may not have been popular either. No one can say a bad word about the Harte family or Paddy Harte in my house or my wife's house. We will never, ever forget him. He went on radio one day and defended us when others thought it would be difficult to defend us. He said that he was not defending the indefensible, but defending the defensible. I was ever so grateful to him for that.

Paddy Harte leaves behind him a legacy that will stand the test of time and that will be favourably recorded when history is written. He always believed in sharing and had a great understanding of our joint heritage and history, which is as it should be.

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