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Daly, Clare

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Death of Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Deputy Clare Daly

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Clare Daly

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Snippet Contents:

I am very grateful for the opportunity to say a few words about Shane. He might have been surprised to know that there were three women fighting at the Technical Group meeting yesterday over the right to have this slot. However, seeing that it was Shane, it was a fight that I was absolutely committed to winning. I know that Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan wanted to make points about Shane and his contribution to the debate on mental health when she initiated the discussion in Private Members' time almost a year ago. I know that Deputy Catherine Murphy, who was elected on the same day as Shane in a by-election recalls the time when they were expectantly waiting outside the door to come into this Chamber and how her family and Shane's intermingled. She recalled how emotional Shane was on that day - as we all know he was always someone who wore his heart on his sleeve, a straightforward man, a simple man. Members of his family said to members of Deputy Catherine Murphy's family: "Look, Shane is not much of a talker, but he is a doer." What an important day it was for him and they obviously kept a connection going throughout the years, being from similar constituencies.
I would never normally want to speak in a slot such as this because politics matters and it is hard to separate the political from the personal. One could look at it and say that Shane and I were polar opposites in terms of tradition and ideas. While that is true, I must say, hand on heart, there are few people about whom I would be more honoured to say words than Shane. That is not in disrespect to anyone else, but recognition of the very different and special type of person he was. For me the biggest compliment I could pay him was that he was not a politician. First and foremost for me Shane was an incredibly decent human being and that matters and counts for a huge amount.
The first time I met him was at the back gate of Agriculture House going across to our offices. I did not know who he was. As a vegetarian and an animal-rights campaigner, I had heard of him by reputation in terms of the stag hunt and all the rest of it. One would not think of us as being pals, but after that first encounter I left with his phone number - I did not even have to ask for it - and a commitment that his door was always open and that we could work together on the pyrite issue because he knew the work I had been doing in my constituency. An unlikely team was formed that day.
I have said this here previously and I am glad that I did. Nobody has done more for home owners affected by pyrite than Shane McEntee. He was the person who drove this issue. In the years in opposition when it was not popular, he was a lone voice. I told him that he was too complimentary to his Fine Gael colleagues because he fought that fight almost singlehandedly in opposition. When Fine Gael got into power and he got his ministerial position, he absolutely used it to try to deliver gains for home owners. I have no doubt that this issue would not have been progressed in the way in which it was without the work that Shane did. The residents who campaigned with us - and indeed myself - always viewed him as our man on the inside in terms of this issue. He was a very practical person who sat down and hammered out deals with developers and quarry-owners - he did not want to enrich solicitors. He worked quietly behind the scenes delivering results.
He was a really peculiar politician. Everybody knows most politicians talk themselves up and try to claim things they have not done. Shane was the exact opposite - he quietly did things behind the scenes, delivered results, changed people's lives and never claimed any credit for it. He was not a mad media follower or anything like that. I would certainly agree with him on that one. The Government must pick up on that legacy and deliver what Shane started in terms of the pyrite issue. Deputy Catherine Murphy and I had a meeting after Christmas with the residents who were involved in the pyrite action campaign. There were a few tears, a few laughs and a big empty space where Shane normally sat at those meetings. People talked about the constant phone calls, about him calling into their houses, putting on the kettle for a cup of tea and ringing them up to see if they were okay. About 20 or 30 of us would get a separate phone call, giving us a bit of information and telling us that we were to keep it to ourselves.
There are families up and down the commuter belt whose lives have been transformed by Shane's work in here. I do not say that lightly by any stretch. He was their advocate and their voice. We have a responsibility to carry on that battle. I remember the first meeting we had in the ALSAA where we brought together residents from the different counties affected by pyrite. We were trying to hammer out a strategy on the issue. In the middle of the meeting Shane got up and started talking about cows of his that had been poisoned. All these urban couples from the commuter belt, who had probably never even been on a farm, were looking around unsure where the story was going. The story involved how Shane tried to get justice over that issue and how he fought a long case to try to gather the evidence. However, the evidence was destroyed and he had to abandon the court case. The moral of the story he was telling the people was that the battle in which they were involved was a serious one and could be all-consuming for them.