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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl] Today in this Chamber, we salute his contribution to our national Parliament and his family should take comfort in the practical application of honourable patriotism shown by Donal Creed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Táim buíoch as an deis seo chun ómós a thabhairt do cheann dár mBaill a thug seirbhís den chéad scoth sa Teach seo, le 24 bliain. Ba pholaiteoir iontach é an t-iarTheachta Donal Creed a d’oibrigh go dian ar son mhuintir Chorcaí agus na tíre, mar Theachta Dála, mar Aire Stáit, agus mar cheann de na chéad Fheisirí de Pharlaimint na hEorpa. Mar Aire Stáit, chuir sé go mór agus go suntasach le cúrsaí sláinte, cúrsaí oideachais agus cúrsaí chomhsaoil. Is cuid dá oidhreacht é an Crannchur Náisiúnta freisin. Tá a oidhreacht le feiceáil chomh maith sa feabhas mór atá tagtha ar áiseanna spóirt ar fud na tíre.

  Sometimes, to get the true measure of a politician, we should read what their opponents say about them. If we read what Donal Creed’s political opponents said about him, we will find a portrait of a talented, hard working, patriotic politician, who put aside party differences to effect real change for his constituents. For example, I was struck by something Tom Meaney of Fianna Fáil said about Donal Creed. Like Donal, Tom was first elected to the Dáil in 1965 for the Cork Mid constituency, and he paid a wonderful tribute to Donal, praising him for his "political brain, his great grasp of affairs" and for his ability to work with opponents to get the best outcome for his constituents.

  In Cork, as we all know, the Creed name has a long and proud lineage. Family members signed the nomination papers for Terence MacSwiney in 1918. Donal's father, Mick, was a hard-working and respected councillor, and today his son, Michael, continues that proud history of public service as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I remember at Donal's funeral something his daughter, Marcella, said, which has stayed with me ever since. She said that her father was very proud to have been the driving force behind the establishment of the national lottery, a body that has helped communities all across the country, and that he did do so despite stiff opposition at the time. He was much more proud of the fact that he had been continuously endorsed by the people of Cork in every election between 1965 and 1989, when he stepped down. He was proud that the people he cared about so deeply recognised his contribution and rewarded him with their trust and, above all, their votes.

  Many in my party remember his kindness in taking new Deputies under his wing, and it was always said that his concern was never for Donal Creed, but for Fine Gael and for Ireland. His generosity of spirit and party loyalty were always in evidence during an election, when he did everything possible to secure a second seat for Fine Gael in his constituency, first in Cork Mid and later in Cork North-West. I know his son wants to perfect that task as well. He also brought the same skills to bear as chair of the parliamentary party. As we approach European elections, we should recall that Donal was one of our first MEPs, serving with distinction between 1973 and 1977. He firmly believed that Ireland's future was at the heart of Europe, and that Europe allowed us to escape from the shackles of our past. As Minister of State in the Departments of Health, Environment and Local Government, and Education, he played a notable role in public life and the national lottery is a remarkable legacy.

  Of course, Donal’s first love and his true love was farming. I have heard that after retirement he could often be seen outside with a wheelbarrow and he took a special interest in the new season’s potatoes, which he believed were the best anywhere. A loving family man, in later years he enjoyed spending time with his 25 grandchildren. I am told he could be found playing in the sandpit with them, or sliding down the bannister, and his wife, Madeleine, could be sometimes heard telling him, "Donal, you are worse than any child." That he was "one of nature’s gentlemen" is a tribute that was paid on his retirement from public life. That he was one of Cork’s great public figures is the tribute I would like to pay today. I offer my sympathies and condolences to his wife Madeleine, their children Marcella, Michelle, Madeleine, Suzanne, Louise and Michael, and their grandchildren and extended family. We also remember their two children who predeceased him, Nuala and Claire. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Ba mhaith liom, ar mo shon féin agus ar son Pháirtí Fhianna Fáil, comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann Creed as ucht bás Donal agus ár mbuíochas a ghabháil leo as ucht an méid a rinne Donal ar son mhuintir na tíre seo le blianta beaga anuas. Níl aon amhras orainn ach gur polaiteoir den scoth a bhí i nDonal. Fear lách, cneasta ab ea é agus d'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son mhuintir a dhúiche lá i ndiaidh lae. Tírghráthóir a bhí ann agus bhí sé macánta agus láidir ina chuid tuairimí.

Donal Creed had a long, productive and distinguished life as a political representative. Without question, he made a very significant contribution to political life in Ireland, building on a strong legacy of public service that was instilled in the Creed family from the earliest days of the Irish State. In many respects, the Dáil was a home from home for Donal as he served in this House for 24 years. He contested eight general elections, four in the constituency of Mid Cork and four in Cork North-West. He was an electoral powerhouse and was successful every time. He had that capacity to transcend partisan party loyalties, which was evidenced by the wonderful tribute Tom Meaney paid to Donal.

As the Taoiseach said, he was also a pioneering member of Ireland's representation in the European Parliament at the very earliest stages from 1973 to 1977. He understood early on the centrality of belonging to the then EEC and the European Union to Ireland's future and, in particular, to the well-being of our agrifood industry and farming community. In many respects, he was a lone Deputy in the Mid Cork constituency but, as the Taoiseach said, when he moved to Cork North-West, Fine Gael was taking two out of three seats there. The arrival of Deputy Michael Moynihan on the scene changed that; I remember having a role in it at the time. It is a bit of a bellwether constituency, as we know, and I assure the Taoiseach that we will be keeping a close eye on it in the coming while.

Donal, of course, contested a by-election in 1965 and a general election soon followed that. On a lighter note, I understand that his first parliamentary question was to ask the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs if he would have a letter box erected at Clondrohid creamery, County Cork. The reply told him that the provision of a letter box at the place in question was not warranted in view of its proximity to the local post office. Undeterred, Donal Creed came back shortly afterwards asking for two phone boxes. Having delivered two seats for Fine Gael in Cork North-West, he was made Minister of State in the Department of Health in June 1981. I remember that period well as I was a student then; it speaks to my commitment to stability in the House in these times. There were three elections in the space of 18 months. His stint in health came to an end because of that high degree of political volatility and instability. However, he did come back in late 1982 and was appointed as Minister of State in the Department of Education with responsibility for sport. Being a Cork man, that appointment was probably the most natural fit and the most appropriate appointment one could make, given Cork's prowess on the sporting fields.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue They have great modesty, too.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I know that Donal took to it with great enthusiasm. I know from my own family background that he enjoyed having many engagements with sports people and was very generous in his time with former sports people as well. Of course, his key legacy was his work in laying the groundwork for the national lottery, which has had a huge impact in communities throughout the country, particularly sporting communities, in terms of improved facilities.

It is interesting, looking at the issues he raised early on in his political career, that some of them are as pertinent today as they were then. One of his final contributions in this House was to make the case for the pay and conditions of members of the Defence Forces.

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