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Death of Former Taoiseach: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 959 No. 8

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin] Liam Cosgrave was a person of deep principle and still he managed to hold together a Government between 1973 and 1977 which had been labelled a Government of all the talents. That Government certainly had great talent but it also had very strong personalities. There was certainly a clash of views over a changing Ireland which came to a head when, as the Taoiseach referenced, Liam voted according to his own strongly held conservative views against his own Government's Bill to allow married couples to have access to contraception. It is an amazing thought now. He was a man of his time whose political views were shaped in the earliest years of this State. He was a patriot whose primary focus was the defence of the institutions of this newborn State. Lest we forget, those institutions were under direct and violent attack from the IRA of that time.

Brendan Corish told me many stories about Liam Cosgrave. They shared a mutual interest in horse racing as well as a shared appreciation of a glass of Paddy. One story is well-known during that period of Government when Brendan and Liam spent a very long time together locked in a room in Government Buildings. Senior members of both parties became increasingly alarmed that the Government had reached some irreconcilable impasse. When the doors finally opened, it was seen that both men were watching the races and enjoying a half one.

We are in an age where personality sometimes trumps substance but Liam Cosgrave was a man of substance. He had a clear view of his country, his religion and his politics. His achievements, particularly at Sunningdale, set the agenda and arguably the actual framework for the peace process on this island. With a deep sense of self-deprecation that all of us would do well to copy, he left it to history to judge his stewardship and I believe history will judge him well. In recent years, like others, my personal contacts with Liam were at Croke Park or State occasions and he was always supported by his gentle daughter Mary. Liam never failed to have a personal and incisive comment to make about the happenings of the day. In discussions with colleagues from Fine Gael over the past few years, I have referenced Liam Cosgrave's partnership Government more than once. He left a distinguished legacy of service, of respect, of loyalty, and I say it again, of true patriotism. I extend my condolences and those of the Labour Party to Mary, Liam, Ciarán and all his extended family. I also extend them to the Taoiseach and the Fine Gael Party on the loss of such a significant figure. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I also extend my sympathies and condolences to Liam Cosgrave's children, to all his extended family and to the Fine Gael Party. Obviously, I did not know Liam Cosgrave personally and his period of political activity predates my own but as somebody who has lived all my life in Dún Laoghaire, one could not but be familiar with his name and indeed the Cosgrave family name, which, for as long as I can remember, was a name that was synonymous with the politics of Dún Laoghaire. Deputy Barrett probably knew Liam Cosgrave well.


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