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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 821 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] On behalf of the Government, I extend my sympathy to the members of the family present on the passing of a benign spirit who, deep down, had a real sense of what public service is all about.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

  On behalf of the Labour Party, I join Deputy Martin and the Taoiseach in expressing sympathy on the death of Paddy Power, a former Member of the Dáil who represented the people of County Kildare for more than 20 years. During his time in the House, he served with distinction as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Defence and Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism. In a long and distinguished career, he also served as a Member of the European Parliament and county councillor.

  As I was elected to the House in the year Paddy Power retired from it, I did not have the opportunity of working with or getting to know him personally in the House. From speaking to my party colleagues in County Kildare, Deputies Stagg and Wall, I know, however, that he had enormous commitment to his county and showed great dedication to serving its people. This dedication was not confined to politics and was evident in his early days as a teacher in Caragh national school and after his retirement from the House when he remained active in his local community for as long as his health permitted.

  As I stated, I did not know Paddy Power as a Member of the Oireachtas. However, I came across him as a local authority member attending various local authority events, including the General Council of County Councils, as it was then known, and other local government organisations. He was always very courteous and kind and I was always struck by the valued contributions he made to these bodies and the wealth of experience he brought to their deliberations.

  I am also aware that Paddy Power was something of an expert master of ceremonies in Kildare, where his wit and great collection of stories and yarns made him the main attraction at many events throughout the county, somewhat to the envy of his political opponents. Perhaps he was also a scourge on them because many of them featured in the stories he told.

  As Deputy Martin noted, Paddy Power also made a unique contribution to Anglo-Irish relations during the course of the Falklands war. While the former Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, was always given the credit afterwards for having taken the British to task over the sinking of the General Belgrano, the history books and any examination will show that the issue was first nailed by Paddy Power at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil comhairle ceantair in Edenderrry at which he described the sinking as it was. Within days, the then Government tabled a United Nations resolution and took a position on the sinking that has been vindicated with time. The issue certainly caused considerable controversy and probably will be the subject of debate for a long time.

  While Paddy Power's former constituents and colleagues will undoubtedly miss his engaging presence, it is always at home that loss is most keenly felt. I extend the deepest sympathy of the Labour Party to his wife, Kitty, and children, J.J., Mary, Gerry, Brendan, Patsy, Tony, Enda, Rosario, Loreto and Sean, a former colleague in this House with whom I had the privilege of serving on many Oireachtas committees. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann, bean agus teaghlach Paddy Power ar fad a chaill fear céile, daid agus daideo. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh fosta le Fianna Fáil, mar chaill siad fear mór. Ní raibh aithne agamsa ar Paddy Power agus is mór an trua é sin, go háirithe tar éis a léigh mé faoin bhfear uasal seo, go háirithe faoin méid a dúirt sé faoin General Belgrano. Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil Kitty, a bhean chéile agus a teaghlach uilig go han-bhródúil as obair agus saol Paddy Power.

  I extend my condolences and the condolences of Sinn Féin to Paddy Power's family, his wife, Kitty, and children and grandchildren, and Fianna Fáil, which has lost an industrious member who had a long career in politics and contributed significantly to the party. The real loss, however, is to Paddy Power's family and I am sure his children and mother miss him every day.

  As we heard, Paddy Power was a former national school teacher who served on Kildare County Council and was elected to the House in 1969. He served the Kildare constituency diligently for 20 years, before representing us in the European Parliament in the late 1970s.

  While I never met Paddy Power, it is clear from those who did and from what I have read about him, particularly on his contribution following the sinking of the General Belgrano and the contribution he made as a Teachta Dála, Minister and Member of the European Parliament, that he was very well thought of and highly respected. To his wife Kitty especially and to all his children and grandchildren, I express our deepest condolences. I would like to think it is of some small consolation to them that they can take comfort in the knowledge that he made so many positive contributions during his life to the well-being of the people of Kildare and the State and to the welfare of the people of the island of Ireland. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Catherine Murphy, who will speak on behalf of the Technical Group, is unfortunately absent as she is taking part in a radio programme. I will call her when she returns.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Having had the pleasure of serving alongside the late Paddy Power for a long time on Kildare County Council and in this House, I came to respect him as a great public representative and a decent and honest man. In football and hurling parlance, he would be regarded as a hard hitter who did not take prisoners readily or expect any mercy in return. He and I had some great jousts over the years and from time to time we entertained each other and those who were looking on.

Paddy Power was a politician whose sole purpose in life was to work on behalf the people. He respectfully listened to their views, came to a conclusion and represented them in the way he thought was right. While he did not always agree with them, he certainly represented them. He was a great headline for the rest of us and those of us who were young at the time learned a great deal from him, as Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl will agree. He was able to impress on those who opposed him the need to keep in mind at all times the job they were elected to do, namely, to represent the public and maintain a high level of public interest and public spiritedness.

Paddy Power was a great race goer, fiercely loyal GAA supporter and lover of all sport. He was also a great raconteur who told great stories, even against himself. He famously told one about a particular occasion when he received a hostile reception at a particular house while canvassing. Unusually for him, he retreated from the house and as he prepared to open the gate of the next house, the lady called after him that it was vacant, to which he responded, "I am not surprised."

Paddy Power was a great headline for the rest of us in the sense that he worked hard. He was not a great man for soundbites or public relations; one saw what one got. He worked extremely hard, however, and was extremely honest. All of us were impressed by the dedication and honesty he showed in representing his constituents.

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