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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:

I offer my heartfelt condolences, and those of the Government, to the family of Séamus Pattison. I also extend my condolences to Deputy Howlin, his colleagues in the Labour Party and all his friends. Séamus Pattison epitomised the spirit of public service that has been the hallmark of our democracy since Independence. He served for an extraordinary 46 years in this House, winning 12 elections in a row. He served as a Minister of State in the early 1980s and also as a Member of the European Parliament for Leinster. However, he said his proudest moment in his political career was the day he was elected Ceann Comhairle in 1997. I am told he was more than a match for the Deputies and only ever made one mistake when he was in the Chair, when he once called on the former Deputy Mae Sexton to speak and accidentally referred to her as Mae West.
As a former Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, I am very aware of the formidable work he did as Minister of State in the then Department of Social Welfare in the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government led by Garret FitzGerald in the 1980s. He believed that we were compassionate but complacent when it came to the issue of eliminating poverty. He was determined to identify the root causes and to try to eliminate them. We continue that work today. One of the reasons Séamus Pattison was so respected by the people of Carlow and Kilkenny was that he was always accessible as a public representative. He liked to tell stories about how constituents would sometimes call around to him on Christmas Day. As a Deputy, a Minister, Ceann Comhairle and father of the House, he served this country with distinction.