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Death of Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 791 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore] As a Minister, he impressed me in how he brought that same level of commitment and work ethic to his portfolio. It was clear to all that this was a man committed to serving both his county and his country, and to the ideals of public service.

We all were deeply shocked when we heard of Shane's passing. None of us can ever truly know what he suffered. I pay tribute to the courage of his family who have spoken out so clearly about the circumstances surrounding his passing, the lessons that must be drawn and the practices that must be changed.

These are indeed troubled times. As a country, we are going through a great crisis but, as people, we do have duties to each other. We all have a duty of civility and a responsibility for personal respect. The age of deference is past but not the need for decency. If, as a people, we lose our sense of decency and of the basic respect that we owe to each other, then we have lost far more than we can ever count. Those of us in public life, those engaged in the practice of politics and those who comment on it have a duty to think through the consequences of what we say and how we say it, and nobody can walk away from these consequences. These are difficult times that require us all to put country before political advantage but to be human, times when we need those of the character and calibre of the late Shane McEntee.

I offer his family deepest condolences. In these difficult days, I hope that they can draw some comfort from knowing that Shane was held in the highest of respect in this House and that he served his country with distinction. He was a lovely man. Cuimhneoimid air go deo. Tréan-fhear a bhí ann. Fear a thug seirbhís don tír, do Chontae na Mí agus dá chlann. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Ar son Pháirtí Fhianna Fáil agus ar mo shon phearsanta féin, déanaim comhbhrón le clann Shane McEntee, go háirithe le Kathleen, Aoife, Vincent, Helen, Sally agus a mháthair, Madge, agus déanaim comhbhrón le Páirtí Fhine Gael. Níl aon amhras ann gur duine den chéad scoth ab ea Shane McEntee. Polaiteoir den chéad scoth a bhí ann. Táimid go léir brónach as ucht a bháis. Ta a fhios againn go léir gur oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach, Domhnach is dálach, ar son muintir na tíre seo mar Theachta Dála agus Aire Stáit.

It was in the hectic days prior to the build-up of Christmas there came the sudden news of the tragic death of Shane McEntee. It was a truly shocking moment that caused all of us in this House to take stock, to stop and to pause. That dark news gave the entire nation a reminder of the frailties of life and those of us who knew him were left with a deep abiding sadness at the loss of a true gentleman of Irish politics. He had those qualities - a true gentleman whenever one met him.

There are no words that we can offer to Shane's family to console them in their loss. The irreplaceable space left at the heart of their home is a void that can never be filled. We offer his wife Kathleen, his children Aoife, Vincent, Helen and Sally, his brothers and sisters and his mother, Madge, our support and heartfelt sorry. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and will always be with them. I pray and hope that the memory of a life well lived, of a loving and generous soul, will not only ease their grief but will sustain them in the days, months and years ahead.

Since his election to the Dáil eight years ago, Shane impressed me with his generosity, his quiet dignity and his sense of humour and commitment to his work. His commitment to public service was a clear and defining feature of his life. From his father he inherited a deep appreciation of the land and worked tirelessly with the IFA for the vitality of the family farm. He brought those qualities to his role as Minister of State and those of us on this side of the House welcomed his openness, responsiveness and engagement and the energy he brought to his role.

It is fair to say that all who enter public life do so with a deep sense of commitment to improve the well-being of their community, county and country, and it was clear that was at the heart of Shane's commitment to and participation in politics. From the outset, he was deeply involved in many facets of his local community. We are all here to try to make a difference. Shane was here to make a difference to the quality of life of the people he represented, and he did that in so many ways.

His lifelong enthusiasm for the Gaelic Athletic Association, perhaps, was the earliest manifestation of that deep sense of community commitment. After his local playing career, his talent for coaching players shone through, both at local level and nationally for the royal county at minor level. As a Cork man, suffice it for me to say that the name McEntee struck terror in our hearts on many an occasion on the playing fields of Croke Park but there was also a deep respect for the McEntee commitment and contribution to Gaelic games, to sport and to Irish life. That deep underlying respect is still there. He gave up his oars to help ensure that players reached their potential and that the vibrancy of a community club was kept alive. His drive in the GAA is a testament to his generosity of spirit and it was that commitment to public service that he brought with him to the Dáil and politics in general.

He was Fine Gael from the backbone out. His family links to the party stretch back to the foundations of the State and he was very proud of that. He loved the Fine Gael Party and it is fair to say that Fine Gael loved Shane, as reflected in the Taoiseach's moving eulogy at the graveside some weeks ago. It was through Fine Gael that he pledged himself to public service. There is a deep sense of loss felt on all sides of the House, but particularly among all on the Fine Gael benches who worked with him for years as a Deputy and Minister and who were inspired by his commitment, loyalty and work. I hope all will be heartened that his spirit will be kept alive by his colleagues who continue the work to which he gave himself.

Political life can be a bear pit of rivalry, argument, debate and so forth and sometimes it can slide into rancour and pettiness, but fundamentally we are all bound together by a deeper commitment to improve the lot of citizens and society. Working together collectively in this House, we seek to make the life of citizens that bit better than we found it on coming into the House. That motivation is what inspired the late Shane McEntee to go into political life. It is that spirit, which he personified, that must be cherished and remembered. All Members of this House are bound together by that commitment. We share in its costs and we can reflect upon its triumphs.

It is his family we thank, in particular, for sharing Shane with us. Politics places an enormous burden on families. There is no question about that. We thank the family for their contribution in that regard, for the huge endeavour and support that they gave Shane throughout his life, and particularly his political life. As long as this work goes on, the patriotic spirit of the late Shane McEntee will endure and his commitment to public service will go on. I trust that Shane's family, friends and many colleagues can draw strengthen from that reality. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Cuirim failte roimh theaghlach Shane McEntee. Tá a fhios agam, mar adúírt an Ceann Comhairle, gur ócáid brónach é seo. Déanaim mo chomhbhrón leis an gclann agus le theaghlach iomlán Shane McEntee.


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