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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Ardagh, a distinguished former Member of this House. Seán was loved by all sides in this Chamber, and was respected by all and could work with all. I was fortunate to serve with him on the Joint Committee for Economic Regulatory Affairs during my first term in the Dáil and benefitted a lot from his kindness and advice. I also saw close up his forensic ability to get to the heart of an issue, his sound judgment and his determination to serve the public good.
One obituary suggested that Seán Ardagh might have gone further in politics only for the fact that he had not a bad word to say about anyone, including his political opponents. I hope that is not true because I believe we need more people like Seán Ardagh to make our politics work better. On the Committee on Public Accounts, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, and as a Deputy and a councillor, he did the State considerable service. Those who knew him will remember him above all as a gentleman and as an astute politician, someone who served the people of Dublin South Central with distinction and who never neglected his family. I know how proud he was that his daughter, Catherine, was elected to the Seanad shortly before his death and I suspect it will not be too long before she takes up his former seat in this House. On behalf of the Fine Gael party, I offer my deepest condolences to his widow, Máire, his sons, Rory and Charlie, his daughter, Catherine, his grandchildren, extended family and colleagues in the Fianna Fáil party.
I also welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Calleary as someone who epitomised the spirit of public service at home and abroad and who was a true Irish patriot. Seán Calleary was a firm believer in something Seán Lemass once said: "Irish people are citizens of the world as well as Ireland". Over the course of a distinguished career in politics, he served as a Minister of State in several Departments. He oversaw our overseas development aid programme and in many ways got that going. He also worked to combat famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s. He defended the Irish in Britain who faced discrimination, supported German reunification and was Ireland's lead negotiator on the Lomé Convention, with African Caribbean and Pacific countries, and we can still see the value of that work today. At home he championed the building of Ireland West Airport at Knock and the restoration of the Céide Fields when others were sceptical about both projects. In his work on local councils, as mayor of Ballina, as a Deputy and as a Minister of State, Seán Calleary worked to make his county and country much better places.
Many people have said he was a gentleman who never lost his patience with people, a rare ability among politicians, but he loved politics and was a wise counsel for many Governments and Fianna Fáil leaders. He was also, as Deputy Micheál Martin said, an accomplished sportsman, excelling at Gaelic football, hurling soccer and rugby, although I believe he sometimes had to play rugby under an alias because of the ban and I am glad that today I have finally learned what that alias was.
Very few families can say they have had three generations who have served the public with honour and distinction. The Callearys can be proud of their contribution to Irish political life, first through Phelim Calleary, who served the people of Mayo in this House for many years, then through Seán and now through Deputy Dara Calleary. I know how justifiably proud Seán's children were of his achievements, and I know he was immensely proud of them. I offer my condolences to Seán's wife, Doris, his daughter, Síofra, his sons, John, Conall and Dara, and to all his grandchildren and relatives. I also extend my condolences to Deputy Martin and the Fianna Fáil party on this loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha uaisle.