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Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

Séamus Pattison was a champion of working people and an outstanding parliamentarian. Following in the footsteps of his distinguished father James, or Jimmy, Pattison, he distinguished himself as a trade unionist, local representative and on the national and international stage. Séamus won his first general election in 1961. His opponents said at the time that it was an accident. Séamus appeared to have a great number of accidents, winning 12 general elections in succession. He was an unequalled constituency worker, working from his base at 6 Upper New Street in Kilkenny. No hour was too late and no day was off limits for his constituents and their issues. In the days before constituency secretaries, his beloved mother worked full time, taking the queries and answering the telephone.
I said yesterday that Séamus was one of a select band of parliamentarians. He knew every Deputy, as he had encountered all of them, from the first to the 30th Dáil. At local level, Séamus had a significant public role. He was a proud member of Kilkenny Corporation and Kilkenny County Council for a remarkable 33 years. He was mayor of his native city on three occasions and twice served as chairman of Kilkenny County Council. It is fitting and appropriate, therefore, that Séamus was made a freeman of the borough city of Kilkenny in 2008. It was my great joy to attend that momentous occasion.
His career was remarkable. He was a Member of the European Parliament, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a member of the former British-Irish Interparliamentary Body, Minister of State at the then Department of Social Welfare and a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, but his greatest honour took place in 1997 when he was unanimously elected to the high office of Ceann Comhairle. My personal memories of Séamus are many and varied, but all pleasant and good. I remember his wise counsel and calm reason. He was always loyal to the cause of labour and always intelligent, insightful and clear of thought. I acknowledge the presence of his brother and sister-in-law in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery today.
In recent times Séamus's illness took its toll, but it did not take his dignity, charm or mischievousness. At his funeral yesterday I recounted my last meeting with Séamus when, from his wheelchair, he beckoned me closer. His whispered into my ear: "If you need me to stand, I'll win again." I have no doubt that he would. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.