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Ó Cuív, Éamon

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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6

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Snippet Contents:

Is cúis bróin é seo, ach ar bhealach eile is deis é chun ómós a thaispeáint do Mark Killilea. Déanaim comhbhrón lena bhean, Anne, agus lena chlann Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín. The biggest tragedy in Mark and Anne's lives was the death of their son Mark, which happened very suddenly, just ten years before Mark's own death. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.
The Killilea family history in politics goes back a long time, to the foundation of Fianna Fáil in 1927. I am delighted that my colleague, Deputy Haughey, is beside me because he is a grandson of Seán Lemass and our three families go back to those founding times. I knew Mark well because we shared a constituency, though Mark had been in politics a long time before I started and was in what was then the Galway East area. Galway West was initially a three-seat constituency, which incorporated Galway city and Connemara. Mark represented east Galway well in this House, having been elected to the Dáil in 1977 and having served in the Seanad before that. When the constituency review took place, Galway West became a large five-seat constituency stretching from Clare right up to Mayo, and the east of the city was added in as well. To say that constituency was competitive, especially within Fianna Fáil, would be the understatement of the year. Three elections were held between 1981 and 1982 and while Mark was elected in 1981, he lost out in 1982. Those were tough times for politicians, as they had to fund three elections only to find out at the end that they had lost their positions as Teachtaí Dála. Mark was then elected to the Seanad. Those were difficult times for politicians and their families, particularly for those who won some elections only to lose in the later ones. We should never forget the challenges they faced.
While our political careers overlapped, the only election I contested with Mark was in 1987. There were four Fianna Fáil candidates on that ticket, namely, Frank Fahey, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Mark Killilea and I. I came up the rear in fourth place and unfortunately for Mark, while he came in third, Fianna Fáil only won two seats. That was after Bobby Molloy had joined the Progressive Democrats. Shortly after that election, a rumour went around that Mark Killilea was about to return to Irish politics. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle can correct me but I recall that there was two people ahead of Mark on the list, namely, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and Noel Treacy, and Mark was the third substitute. When Mark was asked about Europe he said he had not heard anything and did not know whether he would fall into that position but if he was called to go to Europe, he would drive off so fast people would hear the pebbles hitting the windows of his house. He had a fantastic turn of phrase for every situation and other phrases of his have been quoted here today. He had a fantastic way of relating to everyday things.
Mark went to Europe and although he had been a successful politician on the national stage, what he achieved in Europe may have surprised those who did not know him. The impact he made in the European scene was extraordinary. He sat in the European Parliament from 1987 to 1999 and could have gone on longer if he had so chosen. One of his greatest abilities was his ability to relate to ordinary people and their day-to-day problems. He spoke plain English and could translate complicated concepts in such a way that the listener of a radio or television programme could understand them. He did not engage in hyperbole or beat about the bush. I remember how well he explained the changes that were taking place during the MacSharry reforms, when agricultural payments were first introduced. Those reforms changed the face of agriculture in Ireland, the west in particular. Mark Killilea was a legend, both in Fianna Fáil and in politics in the west of Ireland.
I was not on the council at the same time as Mark Killilea and John Donnellan so I do not know the full story, but they often had public rows. However, it was always like cath na mbó maol, or the battles of deer horn cows that never harmed anybody. It certainly did not harm the two protagonists, as both of them were fairly well met when it came to debate.
Fear mór, gráúil agus cáirdiúil a bhí i Mark. Fear na ndaoine a bhí ann, agus fear é a sheas go dílis dhá mhuintir féin, do phobal an iarthair agus do phobal na Gaillimhe faoi chéile. Airíonn muid uainn é, ón uair a tháinig scéal a bháis ar Oíche Chinn Bliana na bliana seo caite. Mar a dúirt mé ag an tús, comhbhrón lena bhean chéile, lena chlann, agus lena gharrchlann. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.