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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath] He was a champion of future technology. As Minister for Tourism and Transport, he ensured the DART was delivered despite mixed political support. It remains one of his greatest legacies. When he was Minister for Education from July 1969 to March 1973, he was the organiser of the regional college concept, which has since made such a significant and vital contribution to the development and expansion of education in Ireland. We are all aware of that, especially those of us who come from the regions.

When he retired 25 years ago, he became an even bigger part of the community in his beloved Dunleer. He did a lot of research on its past with his son, Tom, a former principal of Dunleer national school, and ensured that a lot of information is preserved in electronic form for generations to come. I am delighted to welcome his family today. He was a man of considerable integrity and a very quiet disposition and he was liked by all. That was proven when he was elected as Ceann Comhairle. He has left a rich legacy and heritage to his family. I wish to express my sympathy to his wife, Kitty, and his family, Tom, Bartle, Pat and Mary and their spouses, his sister, Theresa Clare, grandchildren, nephews and nieces, and the wider family circle. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann Phádraig Uí Fhachtna, a bhean chéile, Kitty, agus a chlann uilig. Bhí aithne mhaith agam ar Phádraig le tamall fada. Bhí an-suim ar fad aige i gcursaí Gaeilge ach go háirithe. Is minic agus is mó an chaint a bhí agam leis, de ghnáth as Gaeilge. Bhí an-suim aige sa dúthaigh ina raibh mé i mo mhac léinn agus mar bhall den bhardas.

  Pádraig Faulkner had a great interest in his local community. I speak as someone who knew him. There were three very powerful political figures when I was growing up. One was Pádraig Faulkner, another was Paddy Donegan and the third man was Jimmy Tully in County Meath. As Deputy Kirk could confirm, they all filled the pages of the Drogheda Independent. There was no local radio, but the punches and blows in the Dáil were deeply scrutinised. Pádraig was a very popular local Deputy. He was a particularly hard-working Deputy. He was in the Foresters' Hall at 6.30 p.m. every Monday night. One could walk in there, as I did on occasion, to meet him and to talk to him about constituency matters. He attended many funerals. As my colleagues from Drogheda are aware, he knew practically the entire town. Everybody respected him. Whether they voted for him was a different matter. People had the height of respect for him.

  I speak as someone who obviously did not vote for him in 1977, but it was the greatest success Fianna Fáil had. The double F was the logo for Fianna Fáil but in that election it was the triple F in Fianna Fáil – Farrell, Filgate and Faulkner. Fianna Fáil returned three seats out of four to Leinster House. That stuck in my memory for a long time. For those who are connoisseurs of politics, there was not a vote between the Fianna Fáil candidates. There were only four seats. The candidates were properly regimented in historic Fianna Fáil tradition. It was a great credit to Pádraig Faulkner and his commitment to his party that the three Fianna Fáil candidates succeeded in that election. On another occasion they were successful also.

  Pádraig Faulkner will be long remembered as a very honourable, decent, upright and honest man. His family can be very proud of him and his memory. He is held in the highest esteem regardless of political party allegiance in County Louth.

Deputy Seamus Kirk: Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the tributes to the late Pádraig Faulkner. He was a man of immense political stature for 30 years or more. Honesty, integrity and practical patriotism were his calling card.

He was an officeholder for 16 of his 30 years in this House. His period as Minister for Education saw considerable, progressive change in a vital area of public policy. The concept of the regional college structure, nowadays institutes of technology, was born during his time at the Department of Education. This tier of third level education has made a huge difference and continues to provide skilled personnel for so many areas of the economy.

As Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, he set the scene for the establishment of An Post and Telecom Éireann as two commercial semi-State companies. His decision set in train a communications revolution with a large capital programme. The availability of a modern communication network played no small part in the country’s economic development since then. As Minister for Tourism and Transport, despite much criticism, he took a courageous decision to proceed with the DART project in Dublin. To quote a remark he made later, “I was happy to be told that the number of passenger journeys has reached 15 million this year”. During the 1980s he was Ceann Comhairle when a number of elections were held in rapid succession. He was appointed to the Council of State in 1990.

The constituents of Louth were always a top priority with him during his years as a Member of Dáil Éireann. We shared the constituency from November 1982 until he retired in 1987. The working relationship was always cordial and co-operative. I very much appreciated his sound advice and considerable mentoring skills during that period. On his retirement from the House, his interest in politics and history never waned. I regularly had the opportunity to reflect on political happenings and to avail of his considerable experience when considering the many issues that arise in every constituency from time to time.

I join in the vote of sympathy to a very distinguished family - his widow, Kitty, and to all the members of the family, Tom, Bartle, Pat and Mary, his in-laws and grandchildren. Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dilís.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick The late Pádraig Faulkner was a true steward of the Dáil and a brilliant elected representative of County Louth. He graced this land for 94 years but it was his 30 years of service in this House that marked him as special. He lived through and played a key role in some of the most dramatic events in the history of the State. He was elected to the Dáil in 1957, a notable year for County Louth, and remained a Deputy until 1987. His 30 years of continuous service to his country is unlikely to be seen again.

He was a true Louth man, having gone to school in the Christian Brothers in Dundalk and hailing from Dunleer in mid-Louth. His good nature was evident from his charity work in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul while studying to be a teacher in St. Patrick’s College. Having failed to be elected in 1954, he completed that feat three years later. After that, he would help to shape generations to come. He smoothed the path to free education and championed the need for more teachers and school transport. He introduced the legislation to set up An Post and Telecom Éireann and helped extend the telephone service to many rural areas, as he backed the European policy in that regard. As Minister for Tourism and Transport, he ensured the DART was built despite mixed political support. It remains one of his greatest legacies.

As Minister for Education from July 1969 to March 1973, he was the originator of the regional college concept, which has since made such a significant and vital contribution to the development and extension of education in County Louth and in this country as a whole. When he retired 25 years ago, he became an even bigger part of the community in his beloved Dunleer and gave back to mid-Louth.

During his political career he served as Minister in numerous portfolios, including as Minister for the Gaeltacht, Minister for Education, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, Minister for Tourism and Transport and Minister for Defence. He was a proud Louth man and a great gentleman of politics. In his time, Pádraig Faulkner made a massive contribution to his constituency and the country. Pádraig was a man of decency, good humour and integrity. He epitomised the spirit of decency of Louth. He will be remembered fondly by those who knew him and those who supported him generously in the ballot box. I give my vote of sympathy to Kitty and the family.

Deputy Gerald Nash: Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash As a Deputy for Louth, I very much welcome the opportunity to share the tributes made to a very decorated predecessor in my county, the late Pádraig Faulkner. His family, his party – Fianna Fáil - his village of Dunleer, and the county of which he was immensely proud, can be immensely proud of his achievements, his integrity and his record of selfless public service.

The best tribute I can pay, arguably, to Louth’s most successful politician is to say that his name, his achievements and his fine legacy will live very long in the memory. I was never fortunate enough to have met him in person. He retired from elected office when I was just 11 years of age. He was very much a household name in the county that I am proud to represent. He was a man who, when many of the ills that had infected politics came to the surface, stood proudly and courageously as a paragon of integrity. His time as a public representative was absolutely synonymous with the values and principles of honesty, decency and integrity in public life and in the highest of public office.

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