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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 Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall] As Taoiseach, he led the country with courage and dedication during a particularly difficult period for the State and, like his father, he made a very significant contribution to the development of the Irish State. History will view him kindly.

  Beyond his service to the Irish State, he will be remembered for his sharp wit, his very clear mind right to up to the very end and his understated and self-effacing style - all very endearing qualities on a personal level.

  On behalf of the Social Democrats, I extend our deepest sympathy to the Cosgrave family and to Liam's many colleagues and friends within the Fine Gael Party.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I am glad to say I am young enough, or I am not too old, that I cannot remember. My filter on Liam Cosgrave was through "Hall's Pictorial Weekly". When I think of Liam Cosgrave, that is where I go. God, I suppose it was not very flattering. It was interesting. I did meet him in recent years and it shattered that vision of a grey man. It is funny, he was very different.

What Deputy Micheál Martin said really rang a bell with me. One aspect is that he brings one back, because of that accent, that slight nasally tone that could be at home in Plunkett or O'Casey, or a Dublin accent which has been replaced by a south California drawl in many instances. It was that sense - he had that wit - of having that relic of ol' decency touch to it. It brought one back to the foundation of the State because of his personal history, because of his age. It was appropriate that he was able to see out the centenary celebrations of something that his father had been so clearly involved in.

I would make two points, if I may, in praise of the man. Not knowing him personally, but from what I hear, the sense that he was a Taoiseach who was the Chair of the Cabinet rather than the chieftain is really important. One of the strengths of the State - I saw it in my own personal experience - is that one has real power as a member of Cabinet to say, "No". If we look at our neighbouring island, in the UK they have gone slightly wrong and one of the reasons is because, from the late Margaret Thatcher and from Tony Blair, the Cabinet run from No. 10, or of No. 10 and No. 11 fighting, is a weakness. One of the things Liam Cosgrave did, in that incredibly sensitive difficult time, was being a Chair rather than chief, and it did us real service. It was interesting to hear Deputy Howlin state that it was the Government of all the talents. I am sure that existed not more than in the mind of those same talents. It cannot have been easy to run in that collegiate Cabinet way, but I think that is hugely important.

Second, regardless of what one's views are, there is something greatly to be admired in someone who is willing to stand by certain underpinning core values, certain principles and certain faith, not that it dominates one's politics or that one immediately brings it into politics, but that it is a part of what one is. He was willing to vote against his own Government. While I would not have voted the same way on the issue, I very much admire those sorts of values in a person, in politics as much as anywhere else.

As everyone else has said, ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross On behalf of the Independent Alliance, I join with the sympathy that has been expressed to the Cosgrave family and to the late Liam Cosgrave's friends.

Today, I suppose we are marking the final departure of Liam Cosgrave after a very long life and a long career. My most vivid memory of him is, in fact, what was his first departure. Some Members of this House will remember it. When, in 1977, he lost the general election, immediately he went out on television to the media and he admitted defeat, he congratulated his opponents and disappeared. It was one of the most humble performances I have seen on television from any politician. It summed up the man, that he had done what he considered a service to the State - he was only 57 - and his job was finished. We never heard from him since.


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