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Táim buíoch as an deis seo chun ómós a thabhairt do cheann dár mBaill a thug seirbhís den chéad scoth sa Teach seo, le 24 bliain. Ba pholaiteoir iontach é an t-iarTheachta Donal Creed a d’oibrigh go dian ar son mhuintir Chorcaí agus na tíre, mar Theachta Dála, mar Aire Stáit, agus mar cheann de na chéad Fheisirí de Pharlaimint na hEorpa. Mar Aire Stáit, chuir sé go mór agus go suntasach le cúrsaí sláinte, cúrsaí oideachais agus cúrsaí chomhsaoil. Is cuid dá oidhreacht é an Crannchur Náisiúnta freisin. Tá a oidhreacht le feiceáil chomh maith sa feabhas mór atá tagtha ar áiseanna spóirt ar fud na tíre.
Sometimes, to get the true measure of a politician, we should read what their opponents say about them. If we read what Donal Creed’s political opponents said about him, we will find a portrait of a talented, hard working, patriotic politician, who put aside party differences to effect real change for his constituents. For example, I was struck by something Tom Meaney of Fianna Fáil said about Donal Creed. Like Donal, Tom was first elected to the Dáil in 1965 for the Cork Mid constituency, and he paid a wonderful tribute to Donal, praising him for his "political brain, his great grasp of affairs" and for his ability to work with opponents to get the best outcome for his constituents.
In Cork, as we all know, the Creed name has a long and proud lineage. Family members signed the nomination papers for Terence MacSwiney in 1918. Donal's father, Mick, was a hard-working and respected councillor, and today his son, Michael, continues that proud history of public service as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. I remember at Donal's funeral something his daughter, Marcella, said, which has stayed with me ever since. She said that her father was very proud to have been the driving force behind the establishment of the national lottery, a body that has helped communities all across the country, and that he did do so despite stiff opposition at the time. He was much more proud of the fact that he had been continuously endorsed by the people of Cork in every election between 1965 and 1989, when he stepped down. He was proud that the people he cared about so deeply recognised his contribution and rewarded him with their trust and, above all, their votes.
Many in my party remember his kindness in taking new Deputies under his wing, and it was always said that his concern was never for Donal Creed, but for Fine Gael and for Ireland. His generosity of spirit and party loyalty were always in evidence during an election, when he did everything possible to secure a second seat for Fine Gael in his constituency, first in Cork Mid and later in Cork North-West. I know his son wants to perfect that task as well. He also brought the same skills to bear as chair of the parliamentary party. As we approach European elections, we should recall that Donal was one of our first MEPs, serving with distinction between 1973 and 1977. He firmly believed that Ireland's future was at the heart of Europe, and that Europe allowed us to escape from the shackles of our past. As Minister of State in the Departments of Health, Environment and Local Government, and Education, he played a notable role in public life and the national lottery is a remarkable legacy.
Of course, Donal’s first love and his true love was farming. I have heard that after retirement he could often be seen outside with a wheelbarrow and he took a special interest in the new season’s potatoes, which he believed were the best anywhere. A loving family man, in later years he enjoyed spending time with his 25 grandchildren. I am told he could be found playing in the sandpit with them, or sliding down the bannister, and his wife, Madeleine, could be sometimes heard telling him, "Donal, you are worse than any child." That he was "one of nature’s gentlemen" is a tribute that was paid on his retirement from public life. That he was one of Cork’s great public figures is the tribute I would like to pay today. I offer my sympathies and condolences to his wife Madeleine, their children Marcella, Michelle, Madeleine, Suzanne, Louise and Michael, and their grandchildren and extended family. We also remember their two children who predeceased him, Nuala and Claire. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.