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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 967 No. 5

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Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Cuirim fáilte roimh Susan agus roimh an chlann anseo inniu. I am delighted on behalf of the Rural Independent Group to be able to pay tribute to an t-iar-Theachta Peter Mathews, a man of principle above anything else. He was principled to his fingertips. He was quiet but determined. Above all, he was respectful of all sides and of all people. He died aged 65, unfortunately. He had fought a brave battle even during the election.

Peter was elected as a Fine Gael Deputy in the 2011 general election for the Dublin South constituency. His constituents meant so much to him. He met and listened to so many families who had been horribly affected by the banking collapse and he was deeply passionate about helping them make some headway. The number of times he stood up on the Order of Business has been mentioned and he was intent on raising it every other day with the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, because he was so disturbed by the banking situation. Indeed, the legacy remains today. I do not know how many times he went down to Ballyhay. I can say to my shame that I never went down but he travelled there on several Sunday mornings. He knew what the construct of National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, was and he did not like it. He knew there had to be other ways. He always maintained his dignity when he was meeting people about that issue.

I travelled to the United States with him and there was not be a finer person to be with. He was a qualified chartered accountant who worked for companies such as Coopers and Lybrand, now PwC, and the ICC Bank. He knew what we did not know. We were here talking about a monstrosity of a situation but Peter understood it. To be fair, very few people listened to him in here but he knew it. It was in his being. He was educated, smart, straight and above all honest.

He was deeply concerned with issues of conscience. It hurt him greatly to have been expelled from his party for voting with his conscience, having made up his mind on those issues.

He cared passionately about Susan and his four children. Any time we were in company with him, he always talked about them fondly and proudly. Some had gone to Australia and different places. He was passionate about and proud of them at all times.

He was always interested in doing good and would not countenance anything critical. He could have fun in banter. I remember I had an intern working for me who was from a foreign land. She invited us to her house and five or six of us agreed to go. She invited us for a meal and it took several hours. We had plenty of time to talk about her own traditions. Peter made a commitment to go and he honoured that. We had a wonderful night. To be in his company at any time was refreshing and inspiring. He is a huge loss to his family. It is nearly a year since he passed away. They miss his advice, his care and his wisdom.

I hate to bring this up but I was horrified when he succumbed to illness and awful things were said on Facebook and social media. We must deal with that because there is no place for that in any democracy. He was a decent man. I was horrified that the Minister, Deputy Madigan, was going to share a platform last week with one of the people who said those things. We have to think of our colleagues, of respect, of dignity and of the family, and be proud. If he was here today, he would be overwhelming in his campaign to retain the eighth amendment. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam dílis Theachta Peter Mathews.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan I knew Peter for some time. We had been to the same school and had done the same course in university. However, like many people here I got to know him during the financial crash. It feels like a bit of a therapy session. I refer to the numbers Peter had. When it came to the financial crash and managing it, he was passionate - there are no two ways to describe it. He would engage in conversation at length. We heard about this earlier on. I remember one particular occasion - I cannot remember what the issue was, but my wife was with me - when Peter's argument was along the following lines: Gonzaga boy to Gonzaga boy, I plead with you not to do some something or other. My wife looked at us and said it was a long time since either of us was a boy. He had that boyishness, uplifting, optimistic and engaged way. He was a relic of old decency and a gentleman. However, with it was passion.

I was beaten by Peter in Dublin South in the 2011 general election. In a number of different ways, it was not a bad experience. One of the ways was to see the Mathews family in action on the election trail. People do not really understand urban Ireland or South Dublin maybe as well as they should. They think it is different from rural Ireland but it is not. Just as they say down the country that they are waiting to open up the Mullinahone box to see what happens, it is pretty similar in Dublin Bay South in the sense that we vote in tribes. We are tribes. The Mathews's are a tribe. Mount Merrion is a tribe. That tribe swung to victory that time and it was good to see because there is a recognition in the closed community world that the Mathews tribe have that decency and the same boyishness and uplifting character. There would be the same enjoyable conversation and one would come away from it richer for the experience. It is a real loss that he is not involved in Irish public life and a far greater loss for his family. It is lovely that we remember him and them today.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I am very pleased to have this opportunity to talk about Peter Mathews. I only found out about a half hour ago that these statements were happening today and I am glad I am in a position to say something. I met Peter Mathews back in 2011 when I joined Fine Gael. He was at my first constituency meeting. I should say I saw him first at the count, which, if I remember correctly, was in the basketball arena in Tallaght. I have a visual memory of him standing and surveying all the count from the top of the hall. It is a memory I will always have. It was my second time meeting him. I could not believe that he pronounced my name correctly. He said "Hello, Josepha". I asked him, "How did you get my name right?". That was Peter. He had wonderful attention to detail and he was wonderfully personable. When we used to go to our constituency meetings, apart from talking about economic matters, which he did so well, he would also give us book lists because he was a bibliophile. I always took down the books that he recommended because he was so well read and so well briefed on current affairs and everything that was going on around him.

  He was also very kind to me when both my sister and my father died from cancer. He sent me beautiful mass cards that he got in Jerusalem and he texted me and rang me. I went to Peter's funeral and met Susan and his family and it was such a fitting funeral for a man of such deep faith. I really respect that and his integrity. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a man of honour as a man who adheres to a high standard of conduct, and Peter did that. He was a hard worker. I loved his sartorial style, his elegance and his fizzling, engaging personality. I know his death is an absolutely devastating loss to Susan, Maria, James, John and David. I can only imagine what they are going through. They have my utmost sympathy. He was well loved, not just by the whole of Dublin Rathdown but also in Mount Merrion where I live and where Peter lived. He will never be forgotten, certainly by me. Other speakers talked about his kindness, which was absolutely the case. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Deputy Alan Farrell: Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell I appreciate the opportunity to remember Peter. I first met him outside the Mansion House in 2010 or early 2011 at the launch of the Fine Gael candidates. I remember it well because Peter, as many, including the Taoiseach, said, spent a lot of time on the "Vincent Browne Show". I had watched him and he gave me a few tips and pointers. I was seven years a councillor at that stage. Peter had no experience in public life but he nonetheless had his views and made them well known. I remember quite a lot of his advice, which turned out to be completely accurate. Like so many, he sent an awful lot of text messages. One of the things I remember fondly was the snippets from the Financial Times that he used to photocopy, or rather Colm from his office would photocopy, and he would hand them out to various people at parliamentary party meetings, on the corridor or wherever one might bump into him.


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