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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 926 No. 2

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  1 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams] As has been noted, Paddy Lalor was a member of the Laois team that reached the all-Ireland hurling final in 1949, the year after I was born. His was the last Laois team to have reached an all-Ireland final so Laois and Antrim have much in common in that regard. Laois was beaten soundly by Tipperary on the day that was in it. Although Paddy Lalor did not get his hands on the Liam McCarthy Cup, he enjoyed county championship success with the Abbeyleix GAA Club. His talent on the pitch was recognised when he was named on the Laois hurling team of the millennium in 1999. My good friend, Snitchy Ferguson, another stalwart of the GAA, always tells me that hurlers are sound and I am sure that applied to Paddy Lalor.

Paddy Lalor served as a Teachta Dála for two decades representing Laoighis-Offaly. He also served as a Cabinet Minister in the Departments of Posts and Telegraphs and Industry and Commerce and as a Minister of State. He was a Member of the European Parliament for 15 years and served as its vice-president from 1982 until 1987. He had a long and distinguished career in public office.

Given the day that is in it, I am sure Paddy's children are also thinking of their mother, Myra, who passed in 2014. I extend my sympathies to Paddy's children, Joe, Frances, Helen and Veronica, his grandchildren, friends and relatives and his colleagues in the Fianna Fáil Party and Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose On behalf of the Labour Party, I express sincere sympathy to the family of Paddy Lalor on his recent passing and to members of the Fianna Fáil Party on their sad loss. Being a fellow midlander from a neighbouring constituency, I knew Paddy well. He had a relative living near Mullingar who belonged to a different party - he soldiered with me - and Paddy and I used to a joke about it. Paddy was a wily and dedicated public representative for people in Laoighis-Offaly whom he represented with great distinction for more than 33 years, which is a fantastic feat in such a competitive constituency.

Paddy Lalor was always grounded and maintained close contact with his roots. As Deputy Micheál Martin stated, he was involved in many voluntary and community organisations. He was steeped in the GAA and, as Deputy Martin also pointed out, he was no mean hurler. As I often said, Paddy was well able to take care of himself and when he gave a hit, his opponent felt it. He also had tremendous skill and technique and represented his native county for a long number of years. He later became deeply involved in the administrative side of the GAA.

Paddy held a number of important ministerial positions, namely, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Minister for Industry and Commerce, and served as Chief Whip in the 1977-79 Government under the late Taoiseach, Jack Lynch. His election to that important position demonstrated his affability and steeliness, two qualities that are required for such an important Government position. Paddy subsequently became an MEP for the constituency of Leinster and it was in that role that I interacted most with him. I recall, for example, having discussions with him on Bord na Móna and agricultural matters, which were always to the fore. Paddy also held the prestigious position of Vice-President of the European Parliament for a period.

Paddy Lalor was a man of the people who served people very well. To his family, who are present, including his son, Joe, and daughters, Frances, Helen and Veronica, as well as the wider family circle, I convey again, on behalf of the Labour Party, our sincerest sympathies. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming I join in the expressions of sympathy for the late Paddy Lalor. I am in a unique position as I succeeded Paddy as the Fianna Fáil Deputy in the Laois constituency. When Paddy served the constituency, it was known as Laoighis-Offaly but in recent times the name has changed to Laois.

I want to speak about the man I knew. I looked up to, admired and respected Paddy Lalor, who always showed great interest in people and asked how they were getting along. He was a people's man. He was also straight and upfront and one always knew where one stood with him, as Deputies no doubt agree, judging from the comments of previous speakers.

Paddy Lalor had a positive outlook. This is very important for people in public life and it stood him well throughout his political career, from his election to Laois County Council and subsequently to Dáil Éireann and the European Parliament, to his appointment as a Government Minister and Member and Vice-President of the European Parliament. He was one of the few people who never lost an election, an achievement that is testimony to how well he was respected at local level. While a Member of the European Parliament, Paddy always had a very good working relationship with MEPs from Northern Ireland and often travelled back and forth to Brussels with them.

One of the proudest moments in Paddy Lalor's political career was when Irish people voted in a referendum to join what we now describe as the European Union. As a Government Minister at the time, he had campaigned strongly in favour of membership of the European Economic Community. Paddy will always be remembered in Laois as the Minister for Industry and Commerce who helped bring many IDA jobs to the county.

Paddy was a great sportsman, having played senior hurling and football for his county, and his keen interest in sport remained with him until the end. He attended his last inter-county championship football game in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, earlier this year.

Paddy Lalor worked tirelessly for the Fianna Fáil Party and built up a strong cumann structure in County Laois, which survives and remains as strong as ever. I am very grateful to him for that. We are all very pleased that Paddy attended the launch of our general election campaign in Laois earlier this year. It may not be well known that he was the Fianna Fáil national director of elections for the 1987 general election, in which Fianna Fáil won 81 seats, the highest number ever achieved by the party in its 90-year history or by any political party since the foundation of the State.

I convey to Paddy Lalor's family a personal apology from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charlie Flanagan, who would have liked to have been present but is attending to official business.

Paddy Lalor was a great family man. I should place on record a family connection with Paddy as my brother, Leo, is married to his eldest daughter. Our families have a strong connection and I am happy to see everybody here today. His son, Joe, and daughters, Frances, Helen and Veronica, loved, admired and looked up to their father and were very proud of the man who was known in family circles as "Pops". I have no doubt Paddy and Myra are smiling down on us from heaven as we express our sympathies. Thank you Paddy for a great life. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I too pay tribute to the late Paddy Lalor and join previous speakers in welcoming his family to the House. I acknowledge and pay tribute to them too because family members who give up their space and time are the unsung heroes of many of us who serve in public life. Paddy's late wife, Myra, and other family members allowed him to be the representative he became. We are now in the position of paying tribute to his long and distinguished career, not only in Laois and the constituency of Laoighis-Offaly, but also as a member of Government and one of the first representatives sent by the Dáil to the European Parliament and subsequently elected to the Parliament by the public.

During my formative years, Paddy Lalor was a senior figure in the Fianna Fáil organisation in Laoighis-Offaly and he remained in a senior position for a long time. After his retirement, he remained very involved in and committed to his community and constituency and, primarily, the party we have the privilege to represent when we go before the people.

Paddy Lalor served with my late father and I record my family's appreciation for his commitment and dedication to the Fianna Fáil Party and Laoighis-Offaly constituency. He set a standard that has been followed by others and it has been a great privilege to follow in his footsteps as a public representative. It is with great pride and fondness that we remember his commitment as a public representative.

We also acknowledge other aspects of Paddy's character which helped him represent people in the way he did.

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