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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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  2 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin] To Mark Killilea's great satisfaction, Charles Haughey was elected Taoiseach. A Deputy needs guile, wit, knowledge and wisdom to operate well in this House. All of those attributes were amply demonstrated during Mark Killilea's honourable service here. It was my privilege to have known him. He has served our nation with great distinction.

I did not mention his European service, which was even more renowned. He served in the European Parliament. To be elected one of the five quaestors of the European Parliament is important because they look after the affairs of the MEPs. MEPs are rather discerning about who they trust to look after their own affairs. This is clear from the fact that only five are elected, while this week we are going to elect 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament. Those from the entire body across all the nations trusted their well-being and welfare in the hands of Mark Killilea. That speaks greater volumes of praise than I can muster.

I offer my condolences to Anne and Mark's children, Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín, as well as to his sisters Brid and Vera. We remember Mark, his son, who died tragically in 2009. To all of his family and the friends and acquaintances of this great individual I send the condolences of the Labour Party.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish I welcome the Killilea family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery today, especially his wife, Anne. The Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Canney, cannot be here today. He is caught up with ministerial business and he asked me to pass on his apologies.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to say a few words about Mark Killilea on behalf of the Rural Independent Group. I had the pleasure of knowing Mark. The first time I met him was in the 1980s. I was a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil and of the comhairle dáil ceantair for Fianna Fáil. We were at a meeting in Flannery's Hotel after the local elections. We were waiting for the results of the council elections to see what had happened. The make-up of the council at the time was tight. The door burst open and in came Mark. He was absolutely fuming. They had lost the vote for the chain of office of Galway County Council that day. Two councillors who were members of Sinn Féin switched and voted with Fine Gael. Mark gave a memorable speech that night. I will not repeat any of it here.

My late father, Peter, was a great supporter of Mark. He canvassed for Mark during many elections. Deputy Howlin touched on the story of the telephone lines. I remember my father coming home one night when he was fuming. He said that if he saw another telephone handed or bought into a house he would be mad. People would point to the telephone and say that Mark gave it to them and told them they would have the line within three or four months, but they did not get it within that time. My father was getting abuse from the odd house. I am delighted to say the people did get the line eventually and the telephones began working.

He was a keen golfer. I often met him out in Ballyconneely when we had our Oireachtas outings. Mark was president when I was captain. People never really see Donie Cassidy losing his cool as secretary of the Oireachtas golf society but I remember the day I was captain. I was hosting the captain's prize. We allocated two hours in the morning for Mark from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Oireachtas Members then had from 10 a.m. to noon and then the guests had time. It was a bad wet windy morning but the weather was to clear at 10 a.m. Mark told all his guests and friends who were playing to turn up at 10 a.m. There was utter chaos. The Taoiseach at the time, Deputy Enda Kenny, came to play. He was supposed to be playing at 10.30 a.m. He did not get out until 11.15 a.m. Donie Cassidy lost it. There was chaos on the tee box. No one could find Mark. He eventually arrived at 11.30 a.m. or so with a smile from ear to ear. He told Donie to calm down and that it was alright because everyone had got out onto the course. I will not repeat what Donie said.

Mark had many highs in his life and many lows. I remember calling at the house at the time when his son, Mark, died tragically. It was a tough time and a sad time for his wife, Anne, and the Killilea family.

Mark had a long and distinguished carrier in politics. Deputy Ó Cuív might touch on the story told in Galway County Council. When the agenda came out, Mark would look at it. If there was nothing exciting or nothing to have a row about, he would contact John Donnellan, the Fine Gael councillor. John was another avid golfer. They would arrange among themselves to have a blazing row in the council chamber so that they could grab a headline. Perhaps Deputy Ó Cuív might expand on the matter, but that was the story we were told.

Mark had a long and distinguished career in politics. He was from a great political family. He served in the Seanad and Dáil. He was a Minister of State and a member of the European Parliament. On behalf of the Rural Independent Group and on my behalf I wish to offer my sympathies to his wife, Anne, following her loss. I also wish to offer my sympathies to Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall and Donagh. I congratulate Donagh on the birth of the child. It is great to see the name Mark continuing the legacy. I hope Donagh will have a long career in politics and that Mark will follow suit. I offer my sympathies to Medbh and Eimhín, as well as to Mark's sisters, Brid and Vera, and his adored grandchildren. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I welcome the Killilea family to the Chamber. I welcome Anne and all her children who are present. I congratulate Donagh on the birth of his baby, Mark, in recent days.

  I did not know Mark Killilea. To the best of my knowledge, we never crossed paths. I did not serve with him and I did not serve with Donagh. I had left the council before he joined. Of course, I know the Killilea name and I know Mark Killilea by reputation and by the regard with which he was held in Galway. I know him from the stories in the Connacht Tribune when I was a young person reading about politics. I know him as a larger than life figure. The best know stories have all been repeated here today, including Deputy Howlin's comments about the vote for Charlie Haughey and Deputy Micheál Martin's comments regarding the telephones and eating dinners in the middle of the day. Those are the three things that jump out in terms of the folklore that has gone down about Mark Killilea.

  Like any politician, especially one who has served at county council level and as a Deputy, Senator and MEP, Mark did not get there by accident or chance but as a result of hard work. We all know that. Anyone who has served in those positions has a reputation for hard work. Mark had that reputation too. Many people have faced difficulties when boundary changes arise. He was between east and west Galway. He was around Galway at the same time as some big figures in Fianna Fáil politics, including Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Frank Fahey, Bobby Molloy and others, and, for the Labour Party, the current President. It was a tough area before the young whippersnapper, Deputy Ó Cuív, came along later in that period. There were large figures within Fianna Fáil politics in that area. Mark was part of that and went on to serve as a Deputy, Minister of State, Senator and MEP. This shows the regard with which he was held and the reputation that he had for hard work. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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