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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)

[Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan] He gave new meaning to the word "soundbite". If he did not like the sound of the questioner, you got the answer quickly and it was more of a bite, but his bark was always worse than his bite. I was greatly honoured to have the privilege to serve alongside him. He did a great deal of work for the people of Kildare, and he will be remembered for that. The fact that there was such a huge crowd at his funeral service is a great indication of the fondness in which he was held by the people of the county of Kildare.

I am delighted to see Kitty and the family here. Kitty is a decent, honest woman who was recognised as the power behind the throne. Along with him, she reared a fine family of which they both were proud, and the family was equally proud of them. It was great to be around and to have the experience of working with him. I hope the lessons that he gave us will live with us long, long afterwards.

I could not finish without making this one point. When we were younger, we used to try to rev his engine at local authority meetings. There was the giveaway signal, when he was beginning to respond, when he tossed the curls in the front of his hair with the back of his hand. That was always a signal, we had determined, that we were beginning to wind him up, and he also recognised after a time that we were winding him up. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I join with my party leader, the Taoiseach and other Members in expressing heartfelt sympathy to Seán and to the members of the Power family, and, of course, to Kitty. The people of Kildare, when they elected the late Paddy Power, got two for the price of one because both of them gave loyal and dedicated service. We all realise that Kitty was the power behind the throne. She was, in many respects, a guiding light within the family.

My party leader stated that I used three words to describe Paddy: fair, fierce and fervent. They are fairly accurate descriptions. I never knew him to be anything other than fair in his dealings with the public or with other public representatives, and I had the privilege of working with him from the late 1970s onwards. He was fiercely loyal. He was loyal to his family, he was loyal to the people of Kildare and to the country, and he was loyal to his political party, and he never wavered in that loyalty. He was also fervent. One thing one would have to say about the late Paddy Power was that he was never half-hearted. He was never a milk-and-water type of individual. If he supported a case or a cause, by God did he support it entirely. On the many occasions on which I attended meetings with him, I have fond recollections of the table being banged and of Paddy insisting that whatever particular course of action was to be taken should be taken.

I considered it a great privilege to know him and to work with him. I believe I learned a great deal from him and from his exemplary commitment to public service that he demonstrated at every opportunity. He was somebody whom, throughout my life, both as a resident of Kildare and as a public representative, I admired and looked up to. For many who have entered public life in County Kildare, his example is one that we can look to, follow and hope to emulate. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall In sympathising with the Power family and with Fianna Fáil, I would be probably right in saying that, apart from the Power family themselves, I knew the late Paddy Power earlier than anyone else here. I first met him in Coffey's field, outside of Caragh, at the under-14 football trials in 1959. At that time, he and a Fr. Lawlor from Robertstown looked after the team. He did a good job of it at that stage and we went on and won the Leinster final in Graiguecullen in Carlow.

  Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl has mentioned that Paddy could be described as fair, fierce and fervent. I probably met the three of them two years later when Éire Óg played St. Dermot's in the junior hurling final on the windswept fields of the Curragh and Paddy was playing full forward. As a result of that match, there was a famous heading in the local newspaper, "A Town of Angry Men". Unfortunately, it was Castledermot that was the town of angry men. Indeed, Paddy went on to write a famous poem about that particular match, A Town of Angry Men, and he often recited it to me in later years.

  As everyone has said here about Kitty and Paddy, they were a famous couple. My party leader, Deputy Gilmore, was correct about the number of conferences and seminars they went to, and their activity gave hope and direction to so many who attended those. Paddy, unfortunately, was poor of hearing in latter years, yet he was up at the front and he knew what was going on. He knew also the advice to give to young pretenders about political life. That advice was given free of charge. It did not matter of which party the person was a member; he was still willing to do that.

  When he became Minister for Defence, right across political lines in Kildare there was a fierce sense of pride that at long last this man who had given his all, in education, in community activity and in political life, had gained the ultimate reward for all that effort. Everyone who met him was delighted in that regard.

  I attended a function in the Keadeen Hotel when the Power family celebrated 40 years of involvement in public life - 20 years in the case of Paddy, God rest him, and 20 years in the case of Seán. Surely that must be a record that will be hard to beat, if ever matched, in this House. On behalf of the Labour Party in south Kildare, I offer my deepest sympathy to the Power family. I wish Kitty well. All the family have given so much. Irrespective of whether it was in political life or community life, the Power family has always been to the fore. That was something they learned from Paddy through his efforts. Indeed, I still think Deputy Ó Fearghaíl might have been right about the "fair" part of it but, certainly, I saw fierce and fervent in their full light the day he was wielding that hurley upon the Curragh.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg I join with others in paying tribute to the late Paddy Power.

Paddy was more my sparring partner than my friend in local politics in Kildare. Indeed, I knew him best at local government level, where Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl used sit beside him. Paddy was a little hard of hearing, even at that time, and I would interrupt him while he was speaking. He would be saying, "What did he say? What did he say?", and Seán would say, "Don't mind him. Don't mind him." Eventually, I would get him going. I got his dander up on many an occasion.

Paddy made a very positive contribution, particularly right across local government - that is where I knew him - in Kildare and in the VEC, of which he was chairman for many years. He developed a VEC scheme in Kildare that is second to none in the country. He was one of the drivers of that.

Probably, we both mellowed in our relationship as the years went on. I remember that when I was a junior Minister in the government with Fianna Fáil and I was at a local authority meeting talking to councillors about housing, he said at that public meeting that I had greatly improved since I had become associated with Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There you are now.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg From that time on, we were quite friendly.

  I had great respect for Paddy Power and for the work he did. I join with others in offering my sympathy to Kitty and her clan, who are here and elsewhere.

Deputy Martin Heydon: Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon It is fitting that we are here today on the late Paddy Power's 85th birthday to remember a man with a remarkable legacy in this House, in the local authority and in public life in general. My dealings with Paddy were in the autumn of his life when he had retired from public life, but he was still a great character to talk to and to learn from.

My stepfather remarked to me early on when I got involved in politics that he remembered Paddy Power cycling past the house where my stepfather lived on his way to his first job, which was a teaching job in Grangecon in County Wicklow. For anybody who knows the geography of that area, it is a long cycle from the Curragh to Grangecon, and I mentioned that to Paddy at the time.


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