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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 Maria Bailey: Information on Maria Bailey Zoom on Maria Bailey] In some parts of the constituency, he is still mentioned with great warmth and humility, and often when I knock on the door in particular parts of the constituency, people refer to me as being part of the Cosgrave party.

As a man who was one of the people and a calm voice in turbulent times, his public life was one of service and he believed deeply in democracy. He was consistently opposed to the use of violence. Liam Cosgrave was a courageous voice against terrorism and he protected the State in a time of crisis.

He was held in high esteem in my family home and my father, Councillor John Bailey, always told us great stories about him. This morning he reminded me of a story that I heard growing up as a child. My grandfather used to work in Dún Laoghaire train station and my father would attend with him at his job at 6.30 a.m. every day before he attended primary school. On occasion Mr. Cosgrave would arrive impeccably dressed at 6.30 a.m., with a bowler hat in place, and he would meet the people of Dún Laoghaire on their way to work or wherever it was they were going. He met them with honesty and humility and had the ability to listen, no matter what their query or comment. It may even be that he would just say hello to them. On occasion my father would take advantage by making him a cup of tea and a bit of toast because that would give him five minutes to have his ear and to listen to him also. On occasion it would make him late for school but that is a different story for a different day.

I listened to many commentators on the radio this morning and all spoke of him with great admiration and pride. He set a high bar in political life and his loyalty is something we should all strive to emulate. As someone who spent much of my youth growing up on the sideline of a GAA pitch - I am sure there are many of us here - I was aware that he was a great supporter of all sports. Deputy Seán Barrett spoke about his interest in horseracing. My father said that he was also a great supporter of the GAA, mainly hurling, and I believe this was the first year he missed an All-Ireland final since 1930. I am sure, however, that he was delighted by the results of both teams and celebrated in his own way.

My thoughts today are with his family, Mary, Liam, who we all know, and Ciarán, at this difficult time. May his gentle soul rest in peace.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before I call for a minute's silence in respect of the former Taoiseach, I will briefly add my own few words to what has already been said. First, I express my sympathy to Ciarán, Liam, our former colleague, and Mary who provided so much support to Mr. Cosgrave over many years.

Like Deputy Eamon Ryan, I was a teenager during the 1970s and my awareness of Liam Cosgrave was from the national media. However, when I came to this House I had the opportunity to meet him at State functions and in Croke Park and I found the media image of someone who was stern and austere was completely removed from the reality of a man who was warm, friendly, kind and engaging. My most regular engagement with him was at his beloved Punchestown - he was there every year without fail - and we had wonderful conversations about a wide variety of issues. What struck me was his keen intellect and incredible memory and that he was always engaging, encouraging and enlightening. A person, having met him, would come away feeling he or she had got something from that particular engagement.

As has been said, he laboured here before opinion polls and focus groups and one certainly always had a sense that this was a leader who did not have to put his head out the window to see which way the wind was blowing. He was a really devoted politician of conviction and he never departed from those convictions. We all know him to have been a man of substance. All of us would have to say that his long service greatly benefited this country and those who observed him observed the characteristics of dignity and integrity. We would all do well to be able to emulate those characteristics. It was a privilege to have known him.

Let us stand for a moment's silence.

Members rose.

The Dáil adjourned at 1 p.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 October 2017.


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