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 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] That will only work to a certain extent. It will make some post offices viable and we want to do that, but we also need to accept there will be some post offices that are not viable precisely because the world has changed, there are many fewer people in rural Ireland who are unemployed and pensioners in rural Ireland, generally speaking, want to receive their pension into their bank account, because that is the way they are used to getting paid. People turning 66 are quite young these days. We also need to recognise that as we extend broadband to more and more parts of rural Ireland, those services that people say can save the post offices, like motor tax, banking and all of those things, will be increasingly accessed by people in their own kitchens, using 4G or high-speed broadband.

Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with the order of the Dáil yesterday, we will now hear expressions of sympathy on the deaths of former Fianna Fáil Members, Seán Ardagh, former Deputy for Dublin South-Central, and Seán Calleary, former Deputy for Mayo East. We are joined for this commemoration by Mrs. Doris Calleary and Mrs. Máire Ardagh and their families: John, Conall, Dara and Síofra Calleary, daughters-in-law Trish and Siobhan, son-in-law John, grandchildren Laura, David and Anna, and family friends; and the Ardagh family are represented by Charlie and Rory Ardagh, Seán's sons, and their wives Catherine and Deirdre, and by Darragh McShea, Senator Catherine Ardagh's husband, and four grandchildren, Charlotte, Jane, Jamie and Arabella.

The two Seáns were people it was an absolute privilege to have known. They were honourable men, with very different personalities, but they served their people here with dignity and integrity. Neither of them undervalued the honour bestowed on them by their constituents. Seán Calleary did his utmost for the people of his beloved Mayo and the country, and Seán Ardagh did his utmost for the people of Dublin South-Central and Ireland. Knowing both Seáns as well as I did, I know how thrilled they would be that the next Calleary and Ardagh generation have taken the political baton and continue to work for the people they represent. To our colleagues, Catherine and Dara, and the wider Ardagh and Calleary families, I renew my condolences to them on their sad loss. Their fathers served their party, their Parliament and their country with absolute distinction and their families should be very proud of that work. We, their Oireachtas colleagues, salute it here in this Chamber today.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Ar dtús báire, ar mo shon féin agus ar son Fhianna Fáil, déanaim comhbhrón le muintir Sheán Ardagh agus lena chlann uilig. B'fhear stuama, cneasta, gníomhach agus críochnúil é. Duine ciallmhar agus polaiteoir den scoth a bhí ann. Bhí sé dílis dá mhuintir féin agus d'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir a dhúiche féin. Bhí sé ar a shuaimhneas agus an-éifeachtach ar fad sa Pharlaimint, go háirithe i gcoistí na Dála, an Coiste Chuntais Phoiblí agus an Coiste um Dhlí agus Cheart agus Comhionannas ach go háirithe.

Seán Ardagh was one of the great gentlemen of Irish politics and one of the kindest people one could meet. I always appreciated his advice on a personal level but also his continual good nature. He was immensely hard working, courteous and committed. He was also enormously popular with his colleagues and, of course, his constituents. There is no greater testament to that popularity than the fact that every time he contested an election, he won that election. His first campaign was in 1985 when he ran in the local elections. He had to share the ticket on that occasion, I believe, with no less a celebrity than Sonny Knowles, who has recently passed away, and we extend our sympathies to his family also. Seán was the highest polling of the four Fianna Fáil candidates. He ran for Dáil Éireann on three occasions. Not only did he win every time but he also increased his vote on each occasion. At his final outing in 2007, he topped the poll and was elected on the first count.

He was a very fine and brilliant parliamentarian in the true sense of that word. In particular, he was a very eminent and solid chairperson of a number of Oireachtas committees. As a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, he established himself very firmly during the DIRT hearings in the late 1990s. Obviously, he was greatly aided by his own accountancy background in this endeavour but, for a first-time Deputy, he quickly acquired an authoritative reputation that would have been more in keeping with a more experienced Member of the House. After his re-election in 2002 and 2007, he chaired the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, which was always one of the busiest. Again, he carried out the role with aplomb. He really was a natural. He was rarely adversarial. He never prejudged an issue and was always open in his approach and dealings, and he maintained that during his tenure as Chair of the Committee on the Constitution during the 30th Dáil.

I have no doubt his equable temperament on political matters gave him great strength when he faced serious health issues during his time in the House. He was first diagnosed with cancer in his first term. He got past it that time only for it to re-occur again in 2010, when he was absent from the Dáil because of illness for a period of the year. He tackled his diagnosis with great dignity and inner strength and, of course, with the help of his close family. Before Seán passed away in 2016, he happily and proudly saw his daughter Catherine elected to Seanad Éireann and he took great pride in her achievement. He was a keen supporter of her campaigns and may well have enjoyed them more than his own. Indeed, when we knock on doors, as I do with Catherine from time to time in that constituency, Seán's name is always mentioned with the highest of esteem and affection.

One constant in his life throughout was Máire and for 45 years they were together. They were best friends, hand in glove, and she too was elected to public office. They were both very committed to public service and to politics. It is often a cliché at times like this but I believe Seán Ardagh was one of the true gentlemen of Irish politics. His decency, integrity and good nature were transparent at all times, qualities that are invaluable in political life. He always had good advice for people and he led by example. Seán did not seek the headlines but what he said mattered. Any time he spoke, he was listened to as people respected him greatly. If he did not have anything good to say about people, he did not say anything.

I again extend my deepest sympathies to all of Seán's family - his wife Máire, sons Rory and Charlie and, of course, Catherine. He is still very fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Aire, Teachta agus polaiteoir den scoth ab ea Seán Calleary. Bhí cúrsaí polaitíochta ina chlann ó thosach. Thuig sé tábhacht sheirbhís phoiblí. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir a dhúiche féin. Bhí suim faoi leith aige i gcúrsaí spóirt. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil sé seo ar eolas ag daoine, ach d'imir sé peil, sacar agus rugbaí. Peileadóir den scoth a bhí ann. Mar Aire dhein sé an-chuid, go háirithe nuair a bhí sé sa Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha i gceannas ar an rannóg le haghaidh tíortha atá fós ag forbairt san Afraic. Sheas sé go doimhin lena phrionsabail i gcónaí.

One of Ireland's greatest public servants and gentlemen, Seán Calleary served Mayo as a Deputy for 19 years, eight of these as a Government Minister. He discharged his duties with distinction and honour in the 1980s and early 1990s as Minister of State in the Departments of Labour, Public Service, Industry and Commerce and then Foreign Affairs. Politics was in the blood, of course. His father, Phelim, won a by-election when Seán was eight months old. However, he first came to prominence through a very ecumenical sporting ability. He played junior football with Mayo and he lined out for University College Galway and won the Sigerson Cup in 1955. However, he did not let it rest there.

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