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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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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
Snippet Contents:

I have known Bernard McGlinchey all of my life and since I was born. Today it is my greatest political privilege, since my election in 2002, to pay tribute to him. To me and many people in the north west, particularly in Donegal, he was a giant of political life. As I have said, I have known him since I was born. He used to kid me many years ago by saying "I changed your nappy." With respect to him, I doubt that he changed many nappies and I am not sure that he changed mine.
Bernard had a fantastic career over the years, as Senator Ó Domhnaill has eloquently expressed. His contribution is simply second to none in the context of delivery for the north west of the country on issues such as health and the national question. His contribution to debates ensured that the needs of his part of the country were looked after. To this day we still debate the need to have equality of access to services and so on but Bernard McGlinchey and others were the pioneers in that area.
My father, Ray MacSharry, was in the Dáil at the same time Bernard was in the Seanad and they shared a house. Over the years many Members of the Houses have stayed in a house on Clareville Road in Harold's Cross. Bernard McGlinchey always made sure that if there was anything on offer, through the various Ministers who shared the same lodgings, Donegal and the north west got its fair share. Senator Ó Domhnaill has rightly pointed out that Letterkenny General Hospital, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the Department of Social Welfare offices are all part of Bernard McGlinchey's legacy. It is rare to see political acknowledgment from the Opposition, one's colleagues and so on with a tribute being paid by way of naming a street or park after a person. He worked so hard to provide a park in Letterkenny. It is great credit to Bernard McGlinchey that the park has been named after him with the agreement of all political colleagues on all sides. It represents a small example and testament to a lifetime of effective representation and delivery for all people who sought his help, and as I said in particular, throughout the country.
His contribution locally will always be remembered. His contribution nationally needs to be drawn upon because he brought his business acumen to debates here in the Oireachtas. Sadly, that business acumen is lacking today because there is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and a can-do attitude. Senator Ó Domhnaill highlighted the fact that Bernard was ahead of the curve in his entertainment business. He brought that knowledge and approach to the Oireachtas and debates over the years.
Bernard made an impact internationally because he served with distinction on the Council of Europe. He brought the same spirit of looking after the people of north-west region of the island and his entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude to the forum.
On a personal level, I have spent all of my childhood holidays with Bernard McGlinchey. I learned to walk and talk, on consecutive summers, in his house on Rutland Island that is located off the coast of Donegal. Bernard had a great love of the sea and boating. Once upon a time he almost lost his life through a boating accident. His boat sank and he had to take refuge on a nearby rock until somebody, thankfully, rescued him.
My family and I are grateful to have experienced his generosity first hand over the past 40 years and his generosity was second to none. Earlier Senator Ó Domhnaill mentioned Bernard's long political career on the council which lasted from 1955 to 2004. Only great Chinese leaders have managed to effectively serve for such long periods.
From a Fianna Fáil perspective, I had the pleasure of chairing a convention in Letterkenny in 2004. It was his last political outing. I shall never forget the evening because it was more a tribute, like today is, to his great achievements than a convention to select candidates. Over 400 people sat in awe of him and had respect for him but he simply stood up and thanked them all. He said that he could see all of them and would never forget the many people who helped him over the years and, in jest, said that he would never forget the people who did not help him. He was truly a great man.
I recall one occasion in 1999 where he replied, in jest, when an opposition councillor joked, following Bernard's announcement that he might not run for election and would put up his feet because he had served for so long. The councillor, perhaps in jest, said that retiring was the only positive contribution that Bernard had made. Bernard changed his mind about retiring and went on to top the poll thus ensuring that the councillor did not get across the line. There are famous comebacks but that was a particularly famous one. To many of us in the north-west of Ireland, particularly the people of Donegal, and like the great Muhammad Ali, Bernard will always be the greatest.
I conclude by extending my sympathies to Kathleen Sweeney, his partner of many years, whom he loved dearly. She was so important in his life. I also extend sympathies to his family, his sons Paul and Ray, his daughters Adrienne, Karen and Dolores, and his wife, Liz. We extend all of our sympathies to them because none will miss him more than them. I will miss him, along with my colleagues in Fianna Fáil. I know that the council and political colleagues of Fianna Fáil throughout Donegal and the north west will miss him too.