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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 840 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Jan O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan] He was also a man of principle and when the decision had to be made and he helped to form the Progressive Democrats, he made that decision, difficult as it was, and served his new party in the House as assistant Government Whip with great dedication and in the constituency also. He was a gentleman to his fingertips and someone whom people always enjoyed meeting and for whom they had a strong affection, no matter what their political affiliation. I join other Members in extending sympathy to Andrew, Patrick, Michael, Alice, Margaret and Sinead, the grandchildren and other family members in the Visitors Gallery. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus teaghlach Peadar Clohessy. Ní raibh aithne pearsanta agam air, ach chuala mé a ainm go minic thar na blianta. Níos luaithe, nuair a chonaic mé a chlann ag teacht isteach, bhí a fhios agam go raibh an clann sin, clann Pheadair agus Jean, ag croílár na hócáide seo. Chaill an clann sin athair a rinne obair anseo agus tá mise, an Taoiseach agus ceannairí eile ag déanamh ár ndíchill cúpla focal a rá faoi. Nuair a smaoiníonn an clann ar sin, tá súil agam go mbeidh siad sásta go bhfuil muid buíoch as an obair a rinne a máthair agus a hathair thar na blianta.

I did not know Peadar Clohessy, although obviously I had heard his name through the years. On behalf of Sinn Féin, I extend my deepest condolences to all the family in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery. I saw them coming while we were debating in the Chamber, as he would have done. It reminds me that family is at the heart of this occasion and that this is a great personal loss for the family, no matter when we lose a parent. This is a serious event during which the Taoiseach has led the tributes and we have heard a senior member of the Labour Party, the leader of Fianna Fáil and me, in my own modest way, try to give some consolation to the family above and beyond politics. I express solidarity with the family. Any family with a member, particularly a parent, engaged in public service and public life makes sacrifices. Mr. Clohessy's family know that and I thank them for it. I imagine that their mother, in particular, made many sacrifices during the years. I presume, although I am not sure, we have sisters of Peadar in the Visitors Gallery, but to the extended family - Patrick, Andrew, Michael, Alice, Margaret, Sinead; the nine grandchildren and the entire family circle and friends - I extend my deepest condolences.

As we have heard, Peadar Clohessy served for decades as a local councillor and was elected to the Dáil in 1981. He was a member of Fianna Fáil and subsequently a founder member of the Progressive Democrats. Leaving politics to one side, I have always had a natural affinity with Gaels, especially when I hear about someone who loves the countryside, traditional music and so on. That is above and beyond the cut and thrust of political parties. I imagine his family feels his loss, following the loss of Jean, but I would like to think they will take great comfort from knowing that he made a positive contribution to public life and the well-being of the people of Limerick East. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea I also express my deepest sympathy to the Clohessy family. I recall well the election held in June 1981 when Peadar was first elected after several unsuccessful attempts. The ticket included Des O'Malley, Peadar and me. Unfortunately, Fianna Fáil only got two seats and I was third in terms of votes cast, which meant that Peadar was elected. Unfortunately, from his point of view, the Government collapsed after seven months and he did not have a chance to consolidate and expand on his support. Interestingly, in the election in which he lost his seat his first preference vote hardly dropped; he received approximately the same number of first preference votes he had received in June 1981. It was simply the case that the number of votes for me went up and I replaced him in the Dáil, which was not a very happy occasion for me, seeing that my family and I had supported him so strongly during the years, as well as his late uncle, the former Deputy Paddy Clohessy. Of course, he made a comeback, as mentioned by the Taoiseach and Deputy Micheál Martin, and went on to serve several terms under the Progressive Democrats' banner. The fact that he occupied a seat in Dáil Éireann meant that both Fine Gael and ourselves failed to win a second seat on several occasions. Curiously, we did not begrudge him this because there was a general feeling he had been hard done by in losing his seat in February 1982. He was a tireless and dedicated worker for his constituents and a great champion for his people, particularly the disadvantaged people in the more rural part of the constituency.

Peadar Clohessy was not a man for weighty policy speeches in the House. Nevertheless, when he had something to say, he said it and it is worth looking back over his contributions because they are a model of common sense, as befits someone who was so close to his people. His family have every reason to be singularly proud of him as an individual and a public representative. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins I, too, join in the expressions of sympathy on the passing of Peadar Clohessy. I welcome his children and extended family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery and the Visitors Gallery. He was an outstanding public representative in and from County Limerick. He was completely committed and dedicated to his family, community and constituency. Above all, he was completely committed to the people within his constituency, regardless of their political point of view. That was the marked key to his success, as articulated by other speakers.

It is fair to say and worth noting that the Clohessy family have been on the political landscape in County Limerick for generations. Peadar Clohessy followed in the proud tradition of public service which had been instilled in him by his late uncle, the former Deputy and great Limerick hurler, Paddy, and his late father, Andy, who had cultivated in him at a young age a keen interest in politics. They attended many political events and political party meetings together. This generated the spirit of public service which was to flourish and grow into a full-scale career at local and national level.

What rounded and grounded Peadar Clohessy was his many keen interests outside of the world of politics. They served to inform and help him in his role as a public representative. He had a notable interest in history, education, folklore, the countryside, farming and, of course, the GAA. Other contributors during these expressions of sympathy have noted his keen interest in the GAA in Limerick. He took to his grave the yearning for Limerick to put to bed the bogey of 1973 - Limerick has not won an all-Ireland hurling championship since - something we all share.

I was proud to have known Peadar Clohessy. Although his long and distinguished career never overlapped with mine, I express my thanks and appreciation to him for his often sound advice and encouragement from which I benefited. Outside the Chamber we all act as constituency public representatives.

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