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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

I am grateful for this opportunity to pay tribute to our former colleague, Peter Mathews, who died a little over a year ago. I would also like to offer a very special welcome to Susan and his family members who are here today. Peter was a true gentleman, a colleague and a friend and we miss his company and his counsel. I first got to know Peter a few years before he entered this House as we were both regular panellists at that time on the "Tonight with Vincent Browne" show. I quickly came to admire him for his courage, analytical ability and his ability to argue the issues without ever making it personal. We often discussed things - everything from banking, the optimal design of swimming pools and, of course, medicine - in person and sometimes by phone. Peter was a man after my own heart and very often those discussions were through detailed, long and regular text messages. The Peter I remember is somebody who was very passionate, very determined and deeply caring about this country and its people. While we did not see eye to eye on many issues, I always enjoyed being able to exchange views with him. I have to say that I regretted that he had to leave Fine Gael over what was very much an issue of personal conscience for him. That experience helped to convince me that we should not impose a whip on such issues again. I believe that on issues on which people hold passionately differing views, debates can be conducted in a respectful way and in a way that is not personalised. That was Peter's way and it should be our way too.
He was fearless when it came to standing up for what he believed in. I remember very well a heated occasion about three years ago when he was expelled from this Chamber by the Ceann Comhairle's forbear after he challenged the Order of Business and attempted to raise some genuine concerns about the banks and the pressure that people were under.