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Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 965 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] We thank him and his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Pháirtí Fhianna Fáil, déanaim comhbhrón le muintir Séamus Pattison faoina bhás. Polaiteoir den scoth ab ea é. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach le fada an lá. Fear macánta, cneasta ab ea é chomh maith. I extend genuine sympathies on my behalf and on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party to the family of Séamus Pattison, including his brothers Joseph, Michael and Monsignor Francis Pattison, and his other relatives, on the loss of such an esteemed family member and colleague. As eloquently articulated by the leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Howlin, Séamus Pattison was, without question, an exceptional politician with an extensive career in local government and national and European politics. In many respects, he was regarded as a father of the Dáil for many years, mentoring many younger Deputies who were on the way up. Perhaps he could have mentored a few more from time to time. My fellow party leaders will understand what I mean by that.

He was a man who understood public service and was generous in offering advice and support. On his passing, we should perhaps reflect on his time in the House. When blood pressures rose in the Dáil and people became angry or there were the usual outbursts, he was unflappable, in particular during his time as Ceann Comhairle. He had an innate understanding that that is what people do in the House from time to time and he would chair proceedings with his normal, calm demeanour and wider sense of perspective, understanding the big picture.

Séamus Pattison served the people of Carlow-Kilkenny for over 46 years in different capacities, which is an extraordinary length of service. He espoused the values of the Labour Party in a very distinguished way and, in particular, as Minister of State for Social Protection from 1983 to 1987. I remember how pleased he was when he introduced the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to the Oireachtas in November 1998 after the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Those were heady days when there was a real sense of achievement and breakthrough. His sense of social duty and his commitment to people on the ground never left him and he made an indelible imprint on Irish politics. This is the second occasion on which I have heard the anecdote regarding his willingness to run again for the Labour Party. That summed up one of his enduring characteristics: a great and consistent sense of humour. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Shinn Féin, déanaim comhbhrón le muintir Séamus Pattison. Chuir mise aithne air sa Dáil thar na blianta. Duine lách, macánta agus béasach ab ea é agus duine a bhí sásta, agus é sa Chathaoir, ligean den díospóireacht nuair a raibh gá leis sin. Tá an ceart acu siúd a labhair romham gur bhain sé sult as an Dáil. Thuig sé cé chomh tábhachtach is a bhí sé a bheith anseo agus cuidigh sé le daoine ó gach páirtí a bhí nua sa phost. Bhí an onóir tuillte aige nuair a ainmnigh muintir Chill Chainnigh é mar saorfhear den chathair. Bheadh sé tuillte ag aon duine tar éis an oiread sin ama a bheith caite aige nó aici i mbun seirbhíse don phobal, agus sin go díreach a thug Séamus faoi.

Dar ndóigh, bhí tréimhse fada aige. Luaigh daoine eile cé chomh fada is a bhí sé sa Dáil agus ar chomhairle nó ar bhardas Chill Chainnigh. Ní dhéanfaidh mé athrá air sin. Ba chara linn ar fad sa Teach seo é agus ní namhaid. Ní raibh raic riamh idir mise agus é ach ba mhinic a bhí sé ina mholtóir ar an raic a bhí idir mise agus daoine eile ar an taobh eile den Teach. Is cuimhin liom go háirithe ceann amháin de na heachtraí sin. Bhí mé agus an t-iarAire, an tUasal Martin Cullen, ag screadaíl i gcoinne a chéile. Bhí Séamus sa Chathaoir agus an t-aon rud a dúirt sé ná, "Now, Deputies." Ba leor sin chun ciúnas a chur orainn nó ar a laghad go bhfeicfiimis ar an méid a bhí ar siúl againn agus go ndíreoimis ar an díospóireacht seachas a bheith ag tarraingt as a chéile. Tá súil agam go mbeidh cuimhní maithe againne ar fad a bhí aithne againn air agus ag a mhuintir. Guím suaimhneas síoraí air. Tá cara caillte ag an Dáil.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan On behalf of the Independents 4 Change technical group, I offer condolences to the family of former Deputy Séamus Pattison, including his brother and sister-in-law who are here today, the people of Carlow and Kilkenny and, in particular, his Labour Party colleagues. I first got to know Séamie in the early or mid-1980s. We sometimes had different views on things. I was a member of the Labour left co-operative, which had a particular view about the development of the party, but I always found Séamie to be extremely supportive, kind and sincere and I was very proud to stand beside him as a candidate for the first time in 1989. Many new young Labour Deputies were elected to the House in the famous Labour class of 1992 and we found Séamie to again be very supportive. He was a mentor and at meetings and in committees, he was quiet, self-deprecating at times, very witty and extremely helpful.

We had the same experience during his time as Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle. He took particular care to ensure that all backbenchers who wanted to make contributions on the Order of Business would be accommodated, a tradition I am glad is being continued by the current Leas-Cheann Comhairle. As Ceann Comhairle and Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Séamus represented the Oireachtas and the country with enormous distinction with foreign visitors and when he represented us abroad. That he spent 46 years as a Member of the Dáil and the Pattison family spent seven decades representing Kilkenny city and county and County Carlow is a truly remarkable achievement. In the case of Séamus, it arose from his absolute devotion and fabulous work as a servant of his native city and the people of Kilkenny and Carlow. I will always remember him as a kind and gentle man who upheld the best traditions of Irish life. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I too am glad to be able to say a couple of words, cúpla focal, ar son na Rural Independents. Jackie Healy-Rae, the late father of my colleagues, Deputies Danny and Michael Healy-Rae, was great friends with Séamus Pattison and regarded him as fair, honest and at all times a decent man. Séamus Pattison worked very hard for many decades and was returned 12 times to the Dáil, which is a remarkable achievement. He was a man of the people and very dedicated to his duty as a public representative.

This morning, I spoke to Mr. John O'Connor from Cahir, who was his driver for many years and in recent times. At Mr. Pattison's funeral, Mr. O'Connor told me that he was very dedicated to his constituents and his line of duty. I agree with all that was said about his time as Ceann Comhairle. I was not a Member of the Dáil at the time but he was fair and very equal. I wonder what he would think of the current system involving bingo cards but sin scéal eile.

He was very supportive of the Labour Party organisation and its rural members. He recently came to Ardfinnan, in my county, to launch a book written by Dr. Anthony O'Halloran and we had a great night. He was in ill health at the time but, despite that, he still attended. He saw it as his duty to support Labour Party members in the constituency. Coming from a family of four, his chosen career was public service and he did the State a great service. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

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