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Snippet Contents:

Before calling on Members to offer their tributes to our distinguished former colleagues, Richie Ryan and John Browne, I would like to welcome their families and friends to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery this afternoon. We are joined by Richie Ryan's sons, Ultan, Cillian and Declan, his daughter, Aoife, his brother, Jim, and their partners; as well as by Richie's close friend, Carmel Feeney, and her daughter, Councillor Anne Feeney. John Browne's family and friends include Nancy, Carmel, Flan, Mark, Kate, Deirdre, Lisa, Niall, our former colleague, Fergal, Maeve and Maria. This is a poignant day for all of you. It is tinged with bittersweet memories as you join us in the Dáil Chamber, where both Richie and John spent many years at the service of their country and the people of their constituencies, which they served with honour and loyalty. As we gather to reflect on their lives, their contributions in life and their political legacies, I hope the memories shared here in the Chamber will serve to support you all at this sad time.
Although I did not know Richie Ryan personally, I knew of him as an erudite man who excelled in academia before enjoying a long career in local, national and European politics. He was a man of learning and culture. He lived a full political life, particularly in the difficult, challenging and often acrimonious days of the Dáil in the 1970s.
John Browne retired from this House in 2002, which was the year I was first elected to the Dáil. However, I served for two years in the Seanad prior to 2002. During my short time serving in the Houses with John Browne, I knew him to be a man of the utmost integrity. He represented his home county and his country assiduously and with fairness and honour. I had the pleasure of serving in the Oireachtas with his son, Fergal, who I am pleased to see here with other members of the Browne family today.
All of us are here to honour two deeply committed public representatives who served Fine Gael, their constituencies and their country with honour and dignity. As Ceann Comhairle, I pay tribute to them both for their long and distinguished service to this Chamber. I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Richie and John at this difficult time.