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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] In the same year he lined out for UCG in soccer and won the Collingwood Cup, the first ever victory for UCG and stopped University College Dublin, UCD, from winning an eighth in a row. He had a deep and lifelong love for rugby and his great performances for Galwegians helped the club to achieve a regional dominance. This was at a time when the Gaelic Athletic Association, GAA, did not allow members to play or even attend what were termed "foreign games". Seán, a member of the Mayo junior team, simply adopted the pseudonym, J. J. Kelly, also known as Jacko. As his celebrity as a player grew, a journalist said "I don't know if you have seen that Jacko Kelly but if you're half the player he is, you'll be very good." Following his playing career he performed leadership roles in Mayo GAA as selector and Connacht Rugby as president of the Connacht branch of the Irish Rugby and Football Union, IRFU. He was particularly pleased to be inducted into the Mayo sports star hall of fame in 2014.

His political career began with election in 1967 to the county council. This started an uninterrupted series of electoral successes, which stretched over the next 22 years, and he spent 19 years as a Member of the Dáil. He quickly made a name for himself in Leinster House as a decent and considerate man who drew great strength from the community he served. It was in his five years as Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs that he made his biggest impact. His primary responsibility was overseas development aid but he played a much wider role and often stood in for his senior Minister, Brian Lenihan Snr, at major international meetings as well as in the Dáil. He presented the shamrock to the first President Bush standing in for the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, and for Brian Lenihan. He was the first Mayo man to present the shamrock in the White House through circumstance.

Ireland's strong international standing for its overseas development work is because of people like Seán Calleary who brought his engineering background to bear on the development of water solutions for many of the people in Africa. He may not have had the resources available to him then that subsequent economic growth provided but he demonstrated leadership and determination in policies that have benefitted millions of the world's poorest people. His greatest pride, of course, was in his family and his wife, Doris. At his funeral in Mayo last June, his son Dara told us he was "privileged to have a ringside seat at one of the world's greatest love stories, Seán and Doris. They were devoted to each other." He was proud of all his children's achievements and took great pride in Dara being elected to serve the people of Mayo in Dáil Éireann in 2007. He was ever available to give my good self advice on the fortunes of the party from 2011 on and the re-emergence and renewal of the party. His advice was always strongly given and with effect. On behalf of the party and on my own behalf, I extend our sympathies to his wife, Doris, to Dara, Conall, John, and his daughter Síofra. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dílse.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Ardagh, a distinguished former Member of this House. Seán was loved by all sides in this Chamber, and was respected by all and could work with all. I was fortunate to serve with him on the Joint Committee for Economic Regulatory Affairs during my first term in the Dáil and benefitted a lot from his kindness and advice. I also saw close up his forensic ability to get to the heart of an issue, his sound judgment and his determination to serve the public good.

One obituary suggested that Seán Ardagh might have gone further in politics only for the fact that he had not a bad word to say about anyone, including his political opponents. I hope that is not true because I believe we need more people like Seán Ardagh to make our politics work better. On the Committee on Public Accounts, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, and as a Deputy and a councillor, he did the State considerable service. Those who knew him will remember him above all as a gentleman and as an astute politician, someone who served the people of Dublin South Central with distinction and who never neglected his family. I know how proud he was that his daughter, Catherine, was elected to the Seanad shortly before his death and I suspect it will not be too long before she takes up his former seat in this House. On behalf of the Fine Gael party, I offer my deepest condolences to his widow, Máire, his sons, Rory and Charlie, his daughter, Catherine, his grandchildren, extended family and colleagues in the Fianna Fáil party.

I also welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Calleary as someone who epitomised the spirit of public service at home and abroad and who was a true Irish patriot. Seán Calleary was a firm believer in something Seán Lemass once said: "Irish people are citizens of the world as well as Ireland". Over the course of a distinguished career in politics, he served as a Minister of State in several Departments. He oversaw our overseas development aid programme and in many ways got that going. He also worked to combat famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s. He defended the Irish in Britain who faced discrimination, supported German reunification and was Ireland's lead negotiator on the Lomé Convention, with African Caribbean and Pacific countries, and we can still see the value of that work today. At home he championed the building of Ireland West Airport at Knock and the restoration of the Céide Fields when others were sceptical about both projects. In his work on local councils, as mayor of Ballina, as a Deputy and as a Minister of State, Seán Calleary worked to make his county and country much better places.

Many people have said he was a gentleman who never lost his patience with people, a rare ability among politicians, but he loved politics and was a wise counsel for many Governments and Fianna Fáil leaders. He was also, as Deputy Micheál Martin said, an accomplished sportsman, excelling at Gaelic football, hurling soccer and rugby, although I believe he sometimes had to play rugby under an alias because of the ban and I am glad that today I have finally learned what that alias was.

Very few families can say they have had three generations who have served the public with honour and distinction. The Callearys can be proud of their contribution to Irish political life, first through Phelim Calleary, who served the people of Mayo in this House for many years, then through Seán and now through Deputy Dara Calleary. I know how justifiably proud Seán's children were of his achievements, and I know he was immensely proud of them. I offer my condolences to Seán's wife, Doris, his daughter, Síofra, his sons, John, Conall and Dara, and to all his grandchildren and relatives. I also extend my condolences to Deputy Martin and the Fianna Fáil party on this loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha uaisle.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Shinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde an iar-Theachta Seán Ardagh, a fuair bás i mí na Bealtaine 2016. On my own behalf and that of Sinn Féin, I wish to express sincere and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of former Deputy, Seán Ardagh, who passed away in May 2016. Seán, as we have heard had a lengthy and distinguished career in politics at local and national level, serving as a member of Dublin County Council for 14 years, a member of Dublin City Council and in this House for three terms. His daughter, Catherine, whom we acknowledge today, is also a former Dublin City councillor and a Member of the Seanad. I have absolutely no doubt that her father was beyond proud when she assumed office in the Seanad.

I join with everyone in extending sympathy and condolences to Catherine, and to all of Seán's loved ones, particularly his wife, Máire, his sons, Rory and Charlie, all his grandchildren, relatives and friends and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil. He made his mark and made a difference. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Ba mhaith liom freisin comhbhrón a dhéanamh ar mo shon féin agus ar son Shinn Féin le clann agus cairde an iar-Theachta Seán Calleary, a fuair bás i mí an Mheithimh i mbliana. On my behalf and that of my party, Sinn Féin, I equally extend sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of former Deputy, Seán Calleary, who passed away last June. I did not know Seán but he had a lengthy and distinguished career in this place and, as we have discovered, a formidable sporting career as well.

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