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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

While I did not share a constituency with Ted Nealon, our constituencies of Donegal South-West and Sligo-Leitrim bordered one another. I got to know Ted very well before I was elected to this House through his television programmes and so on. I had the privilege and the pleasure of sharing 15 or 16 very enjoyable years with him on the third floor of Leinster House. Ted Nealon was a national figure even before he became a Member of this House. He was a very versatile man, a very talented man and a very talented footballer, which we, in Donegal, know all about. He was a journalist, a television pundit, a Deputy and a Minister of State.
He was a very talented journalist who started off with The Monaghan Argus and ended up as a political correspondent in The Irish Press. Many times he told us that late in the evening, he would get a telephone call from the chief - Deputy Martin will know who the chief was - suggesting to him in a very gentle way what would be a suitable headline for the next day's edition of the newspaper. I believe Ted always paid heed to what the chief suggested.
In the 1960s, he went on to become one of the anchormen on "7 Days" and succeeded in bringing politics and the workings of this House into every sitting room and to every fireside in the country. He was also a pioneer in his journalistic career and became editor of The Sunday Review, which some Members may remember. I think it was a sister paper of The Irish Times. He brought a new type of political comment to that newspaper.
I mention the well-known Mayo man, the late John Healy, who the Taoiseach would have known very well and who was probably a friend of his. Saturday would not have been Saturday for those of us who were interested into politics unless we read Backbencher because we were all convinced that whoever Backbencher was, if he was not a Cabinet Minister, then he certainly had a seat underneath the Cabinet table. "Today Tonight" was also a great programme.
He also made an iconic programme which had to do with my county. He went to Donegal and stood at the top of a mountain near Glenswilly. He had two gentlemen with him, the late Mandy Kelly, who was the Fine Gael man, and the late Tony Gallagher, who was the Fianna Fáil man. They started off at the top of that glen. At O'Donnell's house, Mandy was told it would be his while at the next house, Tony was told it would be his. At the next house, Tony was hold he was one of his while Mandy was told she was on his side. He went through every house in that glen and designated the politics of every person in every house with the exception of the parish priest's house who Ted said had enough on his plate and that they would pass him by. They did not divulge his politics at all. That was one of the iconic programmes he made and I am delighted RTE still has it in its archives and shows it now and again.
What is known as Nealon's Guide, which is the bible for anyone interested in politics, was mentioned. I remember being abroad a number of times, including at British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly meetings, where people always had a biographical note of who we were and where we came from, which was always taken from Nealon's Guide. I will make a confession to this House that there was one inaccuracy in that guide, of which only Ted Nealon and I were aware. Ted is gone to his eternal rest but I am still here. I suppose at this stage of my political career, it is not worth divulging what that mistake was.