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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 Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney] I had my usual team around me, including financial advisers, auditors and special advisers, trying to put together the theory of a budget we could sell to the farming and agricultural community while at the same time making the sums add up for the Ministers, Deputies Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan. I stopped Shane in the corridor and asked him to join us for a budget meeting as we were beginning to get on top of the detail. He told me he trusted me on the detail and that when I had the budget together to go to him and he would farmer-proof it for me. I did and he did and we made changes accordingly.

To his family I say not to feel any pressure about political decisions which need to be made in the coming months and focus instead on what is important for the family. Everybody will understand this. Take solace and support from the extraordinary outpouring of grief, support, sadness and genuine warmth in the House towards Shane as a person and as a politician who contributed a huge amount in a short time as Minister of State and an enormous amount as a local public representative and Deputy. I hope we as a House collectively and those who cover the work we do will think about what happened and the circumstances which drove Shane to this tragedy for him and his family and that we will learn some lessons from him, his personality and his decency, which is something we have lost in public life in the past four to five years in particular as times have become more difficult and tougher. Shane felt this and unfortunately it contributed to something which should never have happened in a moment of madness. May he rest in peace.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I now call on Shane's constituency colleagues beginning with Deputy Regina Doherty.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty We are here to pay tribute to our friend and colleague Shane and, importantly, to support his family. I first met Shane in the run-up to the 2005 by-election. As we all do during such times he was canvassing seeking support for the upcoming convention. We all wanted somebody new and refreshing and on the night of the convention while all of the other candidates spoke very well Shane spoke of the Meath he loved, the party he loved and the job he really wanted to do. With much respect to all of the other candidates there was no contest that night and Shane was the winner. He went on to win the by-election. We called him the glorious by-election winner in Meath for years afterwards not only because he won but because he galvanised Fine Gael and gave us strength and reinvigorated us as a party which allowed us to move on.

Immediately he got stuck into his job. He made a mark on his new constituency of Meath East and rallied all of our members. He even convinced me to be the treasurer of the constituency. He gave energy, commitment and inspiration to all of his team, and particularly to the thousands of people he represented. At meetings he told every story in terms of football matches and he finished every meeting with a joke, most of which were rude. His career progressed and on the day he was appointed Minister of State he was so excited. We had a meeting to appoint somebody to replace me on the council and he could not wait to leave the meeting to go to his family so he could tell his Mam and Dad, who was in hospital, personally he had been appointed as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. He could not have been more proud and I know his family could not have been more proud either.

He loved his job. He shared himself with absolutely everybody. His confidence grew and his stories changed from football to mushrooms and strawberries, and his commitment to the land he loved so much shone through. He worked with passion, integrity and endless energy. One would be knackered on a Thursday night having worked in here and Shane would bounce into a meeting still full of beans. Everybody who knew him will miss his care, commitment and big heart. He was a vibrant individual with a rare friendliness and a charm of personality. He was a genuinely warm and wonderful individual with a big heart. Albert Einstein, who was apparently a very clever man, said the value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not what he is able to receive. Shane gave and gave and gave and we, his friends, colleagues and fellow county men and women were the lucky beneficiaries. Shane was a man of his people, his place and his party. Rest easy Shane. Godspeed.

Deputy Dominic Hannigan: Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan It is with sadness I stand today to mourn our late colleague, the Minister of State, Shane McEntee. I first met Shane during the Meath by-election in 2005 when I was also a candidate. That by-election saw him elected for the first time to the House. While the campaign was tough and intense, as all elections are, throughout it Shane was a gentleman and was pleasant on the campaign trail. In the following years I got to know Shane better. I was elected to the Seanad in 2007 when he was elected to this House for the second time. After my election Shane was very welcoming to me as a fellow Member of the Oireachtas from the royal county. He ensured I was invited along to meet all the various delegations and representations and to meetings with regard to the county of Meath.

On behalf of the Labour Party in Meath I can say that in all of our dealings with Shane we found him very easy to get on with. He was a straight-up honest man who was very fair. His goodness was evident to anybody who crossed his path. One always came away from a conversation with Shane knowing he would try his very best to help one out in any way he could. As political opponents we were only too well aware of the qualities Shane had. It was second nature to Shane to be able to connect with people. He could be speaking at a difficult public meeting or in the middle of a big argument on a radio show but he always managed to find the words to win the argument, often with a smile or an anecdote about a forthcoming football match or perhaps something to do with the farm on which he worked. I remember ringing Shane one morning to discuss a relevant issue of the day and I could hear noise in the background. I asked Shane what it was and he told me he was out in a field with some cows doing a bit of work. That was Shane; he managed to combine so much in his life.

Everybody is very well aware of the qualities he had and how he could connect with people and how one knew he was straight up every time one met him. We would all agree the place was much better when Shane was around. I know I speak for the people of Meath when I say Shane will be remembered as a fine man and a dedicated Deputy for the people. I have spoken to many people in recent weeks and wherever one goes in the county one meets people who were touched in some way by Shane. He gave his help and advice freely and people always knew Shane was there for them. He was respected by all and loved by many. We will all miss him in this House. To his wife Kathleen and his family I say I am very truly sorry for their loss.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I now call Deputy Damien English from the Meath West constituency.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English Shane truly was a unique person, colleague and friend. He was a committed and passionate man whether for family, politics, football, community or, as Shane would say, parish. He was a gentle giant with a huge presence in Meath and the country. His passing is a huge loss to his family, our county and all of us here. I did not know Shane before the 2005 by-election. I knew of him, as everyone in Meath knew the McEntee family from football, sport and politics, and Shane's reputation had travelled even to my house when I was a young fellow well before 2005 when I got to know him.

I remember canvassing throughout the county and it did not matter whether one was in Donore near Drogheda or in Ballinabrackey, Enfield or Navan, Shane was known. Knocking on doors I assumed people would know Gerry, but no offence to Gerry it was always Shane they knew. They knew of Gerry but they knew Shane personally. Before he had even started his formal role in politics he was known. Getting to know Shane during the by-election was an honour as was working with him and his family.


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