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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 Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross] That was also indicative of a person who regarded himself as not the relevant ingredient of the politics which he represented but that the values which he espoused had been represented. Those values had been proved to be somewhat old-fashioned in those days. Liam Cosgrave was old-fashioned, I would suggest, from birth. He was old-fashioned in 1977 and was old-fashioned when he died. Those values, to which everybody has referred, were values which he held so dear that he was prepared, as the Taoiseach and others have mentioned, to vote against his own Cabinet. I do not suggest that the current Taoiseach follows that particular course but Liam Cosgrave was prepared to vote against the wishes of his own Cabinet for his own principles. He got away with it because people respected him for what he believed in. That is pretty rare now. He was also prepared to sacrifice his leadership on one occasion where it was in peril and was only saved by a tragic incident on the streets of Dublin afterwards. He was a man of extraordinary and gritty integrity which many of us would be wiser to follow, if we had a better sense of history than we have of the immediate, today.

In recent times he kept his own counsel about what was happening in Ireland. We can only guess at what he thought of us and our pandering to the media and commentators, which he refused to do. Indeed, he had some fairly harsh words to say about the media but he was consistent with that. He did not pander to the media. He did not pander to outside opinion but simply stuck to what he believed in, did the job, got on with it and finished up defeated, bloodied but certainly, unbowed. He was unique, not only in that he voted against his own party or that he stood up to outside forces. He was also unique because while holding these deeply conservative principles, as Deputy Howlin rightly said, he managed somehow - in a political manoeuvre which I find difficult to comprehend - to go into coalition with the Labour Party. That was particularly difficult at the time because he had to deal with such extraordinary characters like Conor Cruise O'Brien, Justin Keating and Brendan Corish. He managed to do it, from his deeply conservative background. These were mavericks, very left-wing in some cases and very committed in the other way and he brought them together and formed what was a very stable coalition Government. That was because he cared about the State and about his own principles being implemented. One of the people who paid him the greatest tribute during his own lifetime was Conor Cruise O'Brien. That was rare; Conor Cruise O'Brien did not pay many people many tributes but he paid great tribute to Liam Cosgrave.

I would like to say, on behalf of the Independent Alliance, that we mourn the passing of Liam Cosgrave. We respect his values and we sympathise with his family, with Mary, Ciarán and Liam.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with well-established tradition, we will now hear from Deputies from the late former Taoiseach's constituency. I call Deputy Seán Barrett.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I learned an awful lot from Liam Cosgrave. He was all about public representation. Many of us, from time to time, forget that we are public representatives but he was a great believer in representing the people who elected him. It was a great quality. He did not ask what people's politics were. If they were constituents with a problem, he looked after them. His dedication to his constituents, even when he was Taoiseach was notable. Even when he was Taoiseach, he never forgot them, or those who elected him.

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