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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 Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath] He was very strong, so he would have been very proud of Catherine becoming a Senator and he spent a lot of time talking about her. As the parent of two daughters also, we had many chats between breaks at the justice committee.

On a personal and political level, Seán was very professional as chairman of the justice committee. He really enjoyed diversity and difference and we had many debates, rows and differences of opinions. He was always trying to get me on board because I was the maverick, rogue Independent on the committee at the time. He was always trying to get me to reach consensus.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Look at him now.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin He is the stalwart of a conservative Government.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath I agree with Deputy O'Loughlin. He would be quietly smiling at me in my situation as a Minister of State in the current Government.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath He would be mesmerised.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Seán was that kind of person. He enjoyed diversity and inclusion, and he got it. Nowadays it is accepted as part of politics, but in those days it was not easy to work with Independents and people with different views when one was in a mainstream party, but Seán was able to do that on the committee. As my colleagues said, he was a top class, professional politician and I was very proud when we went to Rome to talk about equality, international justice and criminal justice issues that Seán was the captain of the Oireachtas committee on justice.

  When I hear words being spoken about Seán Ardagh, I think of the words "decency" and "integrity". He is a sad loss.

  Again I offer my sincerest sympathy to both families. We are thinking of them on what is a sad but also a proud day for the families.

Deputy Lisa Chambers: Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers I am grateful to have the opportunity to express my heartfelt and deep sympathies to the Calleary family, to Doris, Síofra, John, Conall and my constituency colleague, Dara, who I have worked with in Mayo for the best part of ten years. This is a difficult day for the family but it is also a proud one, hearing so many kind words in the Chamber.

Seán served as a Deputy for 19 years, eight of those as a Government Minister, and by any standards that is an exceptional record of public service and one to be extremely proud of. For me in my first term in Dáil Éireann, that level of service is something to aspire to and to admire.

In my personal interactions with Seán, he was always a very considered man, an intellectual, somebody who was well read and somebody who knew his stuff. He understood politics but, more importantly, he understood Mayo politics. I knew that he was a strong source of support for Dara and for the wider Fianna Fáil organisation across Mayo, his opinion was always asked for and he was very well regarded and respected across the constituency and across the political divide. Within Fianna Fáil, we were obviously immensely proud of him and we still are but even in Fine Gael, those with whom he worked on the county council and in Dáil Éireann had great respect and admiration for him. He was a man of integrity, he was genuine and he was trusted and that is something that can be difficult for politicians but he was certainly trusted by the Mayo electorate which was evidenced by his continued electoral success and within the party, climbing to the ministerial rank. He was somebody who was seen as a support, not just for his family and his son Dara, but for the organisation and he is sorely missed within Fianna Fáil nationally and very deeply missed within Fianna Fáil in County Mayo.

As we speak today about the loss of a great public servant, I am conscious that he was a father and a husband and will be deeply missed in that regard. That is not something that will ever be replaced, but is something that one must look back on in appreciation and learn to live with. I am grateful for the opportunity to express sympathy to the family and thank my colleague, Dara, for being a kind person to work with. He embodies many of the good qualities that his father had and he has been a very supportive constituency colleague. I know that his father was immensely proud of him, as Dara was of his father.

On the death of Seán Ardagh, I offer my sympathy to my colleague and friend Catherine, who serves in Seanad Éireann, to his wife Maura, to Charlie, Rory and all of the extended family. I know how difficult this was for Catherine. Having been on the campaign trail with her during the Seanad elections, it was a testing time and she showed huge courage, steel, determination and all the good qualities that we look for in a public representative. I know how much her father meant to her and how much he impacted on her as a person and influenced her career. I am so glad that he got to see her elected to Seanad Éireann and I have no doubt that she will be elected to this House in the near future. I offer my deepest sympathies to her entire family. I did not know Seán personally, although I met him on a couple of occasions, but a bad word has never been spoken about him nor about Catherine. She is a fantastic colleague and she also embodies the good qualities that her father brought to this Chamber. It is lovely to hear all of the kind words across the House for Seán Calleary and Seán Ardagh.

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I extend my deepest sympathy to the Ardagh family. I served with Seán in the House and everything said about him today was true. He was a man of common sense, dignity and honour and a man easy to work with in the Parliament.

Seán Calleary was somebody I knew when I was a member of Mayo County Council, the town council and a Dáil Deputy and he was a man that I respected greatly. Sometimes people refer to someone as a gentleman when they die but Seán Calleary was a gentleman, a man of honour and dignity and a man that I enjoyed meeting. We would always start off talking about sport, be it rugby, soccer, Gaelic football or the Mayo team, but we never finished talking without talking about politics. He loved politics and he loved Fianna Fáil and he served the people of Mayo and of Ireland very well. He was a man who had great common sense and the common touch.

I have to tell his wife and family today that he loved them and he loved Fianna Fáil - there is no pretending that he did not-----

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It is not a sin yet.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring -----and he never let it down and he fought and battled for it, sometimes when it was not easy.

He played sport and was in politics and in sport they say not to go for the man or the woman but for the ball and that is what Seán did. He was an honourable man, a man I had great respect for and who served the people of Mayo. We have had many politicians over the years but Seán carried out his job in a very quiet, effective and decent way and when I went to him as a colleague to make representations on behalf of the constituency, he always got back to me and was always there to support and help me in whatever way he could. I will never forget him for his kindness because whenever I would meet him, he would have a kind word for me. He knew politics inside out and he knew the difficulties that people have in politics and he always had a kind word for people.

There is no doubt but that those qualities have passed onto my colleague, Dara, and Deputy Lisa Chambers was correct about that. He is somebody who I like working with, who I respect and who has carried on the tradition of the Calleary family. It is a great honour for Dara that his grandfather and his father were elected to this House, as he has been, because it is a great honour to be elected by the people of one's county to represent them in Dáil Éireann. Seán Calleary respected that, saw it as an honour and treated it as an honour. He respected the people of Mayo. He served Fianna Fáil and the people of this country very well and he will certainly be missed. Thousands of people turned up to his funeral and I said to Dara that day, joking, that I will be looking for the number twos from him because there is no doubt but that the people who turned out on the day had great respect for the Calleary family.

His wife Doris, his sons Conall, John and Dara and his daughter Síofra are the biggest losers. They have lost a great father, a great friend and someone who I enjoyed meeting because I never left him without a smile. He had that kind way about him. He is a big loss to his family and to Fianna Fáil. He served the people of Mayo, of whom he was very proud.

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