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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

I am grateful for this opportunity to pay tribute to two members of the Fine Gael family, Richie Ryan and John Browne, who served our country with distinction and who passed away recently. Ba pholaiteoir prionsapálta é Richie Ryan. Threoraigh sé cúrsaí airgeadais na tíre seo trí cheann de na tréimhsí is measa in Éirinn. Is cuimhin linn é mar dhuine neamheaglach a thug cúnamh do chách agus é ag fónamh d'ár dtír le gradam. Richie Ryan was very much a politician of principle. He guided our country's finances through some of the darkest times. Today we remember someone who was fearless in serving our country. During the 1970s oil crisis and the years that followed, Richie proved himself to be a capable and steady pair of hands at a very turbulent economic time. On television and radio, and even at the Christmas panto he attended with his grandchildren, Richie was satirised for his economic policies. He took it in good humour and he never wavered in his mission to save our economy and protect jobs and livelihoods. We should also remember that working alongside his colleagues in the Labour Party, he introduced legislation that ended the marriage bar in Ireland, extended the tax base and widened social welfare coverage considerably.
Having served as one of our first MEPs, Richie went on to top the poll at the first direct elections to the European Parliament in 1979 and again in 1984. His campaign slogan was simple - "Richie was Right" - and I believe time has vindicated the truth of that assertion. He served as chairman of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the World Bank and with distinction as a member of the European Court of Auditors. Following his retirement, he continued to serve the public in a number of voluntary roles. We all remember his work over many decades as a Commissioner of Irish Lights, a job he loved. Although I never had the privilege of serving alongside Richie, I met him on several occasions over the years. I believe his legacy of distinguished and selfless service remains a benchmark for those of us in public service today. His beloved wife, Mairéad, predeceased him. I offer my condolences to his children, Declan, Cillian, Ultan, Aoife and Bláthnaid, his brothers, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren and his extended family and friends. Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Chaith John Browne a bheatha a tabhairt cúnaimh go díograiseach go dtí daoine eile. Seirbhíseach poiblí cróga agus lán d'ionracas ab ea é. Bhí grá mór aige don Ghaeilge, mar a chonaiceamar go minic san Oireachtas. Chuir sé go mór le cruthú beartas poiblí agus tá ár dtír níos fearr de bharr a éachtaí. John Browne was very much defined by his love of community. As a teacher, he encouraged and inspired his students to achieve great things and their respect for him was long-lasting. As a public servant, he made many contributions that shaped public policy and made our country a better place. I saw his political qualities at first hand. I have to say I admired his loyalty and hard work, his somewhat mischievous sense of humour and his insistence on always telling it as he saw it.
As a Deputy for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency for almost 14 years, and for a time the only Member of this House from County Carlow, John Browne made valuable contributions on issues close to his heart such as European affairs, education, social welfare, the Irish language, criminal law and international development. As Fine Gael's spokesperson on justice and health in the early 1990s, he played a significant role in the development of our policies. John was a great lover of the Irish language and, as we often saw in this Oireachtas, he did much to encourage its use. Today we remember a man from Clare who became the heart of Carlow. He was much loved by everyone who came into contact with him. As we know, John's son Fergal has continued in his career of public service, serving in the Seanad and on Carlow County Council. Both men share the honour of being elected chair of Carlow County Council, 17 years apart.