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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher] He leaves a legacy of which Rosaleen, his family, his extended family and his grandchildren will be proud in the years to come.

  Ó thaobh Monica Barnes d'oibrigh mé anseo léi chomh maith agus is cuimhin liom bean a d'oibrigh go dian agus go dícheallach do chearta ban. Gúim gach rath Dé ar an mbeirt acu agus ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha uaisle, dílse.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I welcome both families.

In regard to the Barnes family, I had never met their mother, Monica, but I know from the tributes that have been presented that she was somebody her constituents were proud to call a local representative and whom her children were proud to call their mother. I am sure the pride they have in her is enhanced by what they have heard from her former colleagues and political representatives.

From my county, I welcome the family of the late Paddy Harte: his dear wife, Rosaleen and his nine children, Jimmy, Paddy, Garrett, Mary, Anne, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny and Emmet. There is no doubt that Paddy gave tremendous service to the constituency of Donegal North-East, serving from 1961 to 1997. It is clear from his family taking up that baton that Paddy's strong ethos of public service is carried on in his family, whether through politics, involvement in the media or a commitment to local community.

When I was growing up in Donegal and becoming politically conscious, Paddy Harte was one of the big names in the county, along with former Deputies Hugh Conaghan, Neil Blaney, the Coughlans, Jim McDaid and, of course, Deputy Gallagher. My grandfather, Willie Bradley from Dunree, an active party canvasser, knew him and canvassed for him. I am not sure how he would feel about his grandson, as a Fianna Fáil Deputy, paying tribute to Paddy Harte. On my first occasion in the Dáil, as a sixth-class primary school student on a school tour from Donegal, Paddy was the Deputy who hosted us, and I remember well meeting him at the front of Leinster House and being introduced by my principal, Sarah McDermott. The event was set up by a local councillor, Bernard McGuinness, who was working alongside him that day. I am not sure whether they always worked as hand in glove as they did on that occasion, but there is no doubt they did at that time. I remember it well and it was a tremendous experience which awakened and developed my interest in politics from that time on.

Having survived so many years in politics, particularly in Donegal politics, which is not easy, Paddy was not without craft. I remember one winter's night when I was still in school, a knock came to our front door, and it was Paddy Harte, who was apparently lost although I am not sure where he was going. We had a small, old-style country pub and shop that has since closed, and the next house over the road was another McConalogues', which happened to be a pub also. It was linked to Fine Gael and Paddy used to go there but he managed to get himself lost that night and rocked up to the door wondering where the other McConalogue pub was. The conclusion in the McConalogue household that night was that it was a cute move by Paddy to see whether my mother still held any links to her father's Fine Gael allegiances. He was innocently given directions to the pub down the road and was none the wiser as to the main mission we had concluded he was on.

Paddy served at a time when politics was quite different, before social media. The commitment level was just as high but in a different way from now. Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned the trip up and down to Donegal and, although the road is difficult now, when Paddy was doing it, prior to all the bypasses that were built in the past number of years, whether in Carrickmacross, Castleblayney or Ardee, it was certainly a much more arduous journey.

His great contribution was the development of the Island of Ireland Peace Park in West Flanders, and its opening a year after Paddy finished working as a politician in 1998 was a strong commitment of his which displayed the type of politician he was, working closely with Glen Barr in achieving it. He was very much ahead of his time in his acknowledging the role and memory of the many Irish people who had died in the First World War.

For a man who spent 35 years in politics, he very much enjoyed his retirement and did not give any outward display of missing politics. On the occasions I met him, he seemed interested in history and his pastimes, and heavily involved with his family. He continued to be outgoing and happy, and I know it was important to him and his family that his last days were spent in Lifford hospital, to which he had a strong affinity and commitment over the years. Notwithstanding his great legacy of 35 years as a politicians and his strong work on behalf of the people of Donegal, it was clear at his funeral that his greatest legacy was that of his nine children and 24 grandchildren. The pride which they all showed in him that day was representative of the pride he in turn had in all of them, and it is great to have them in attendance today. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The last words are Deputy Bailey's.

Deputy Maria Bailey: Information on Maria Bailey Zoom on Maria Bailey We women like to get the last word and, therefore, I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

I share in the expressions of sympathy for the late, great Paddy Harte. It is my misfortune that I did not get to know him properly but, given the words that have been expressed, it is clear he was a great son, husband, father, grandfather and a tremendous asset to the country and politics. I share in the expressions of sympathy to his family, who are present.

As a Dún Laoghaire Deputy who has done clinics every Saturday for the past decade, for which I hope I am not taking a retrograde step, it is with great pride that I pay tribute to the late Monica Barnes, who was a real trailblazer. When I consider what a privilege it is for me to be sitting as a Member of the House, I know I am here because of the great work and courage of women like Monica Barnes who came before me and laid down the strong foundations for us to be here today.

Monica was always admired in the house in which I grew up, which was also full of strong, liberal women who outnumbered my father on many occasions. Owing to her party and the woman she was in principle, she was greatly respected and honoured not only in my house but in Dún Laoghaire. When Monica was first elected to the House in 1982 to represent the people of Dún Laoghaire, she also represented women the length and breadth of the island. She represented us all with fire, dignity and grace. She was committed to the idea of a fair and just society, and used her time in this House and the Seanad to advance women's rights in Ireland in all forms. She was the forerunner of the wonderful, strong, articulate, capable women who sit in the Oireachtas today. The women of Ireland have a duty and onus to keep that flag flying, whether in equal pay, healthcare, childcare or many other areas where Monica started the journey.

Monica did the work she did in the House and outside of it because she believed it was the right thing to do. She stood her ground and fought for what she believed to be right. It may not have been the easy route to take many a time, but she made no apology for it, and her strong legacy lives on. My hope, which I hope is shared by all of us, is that history will never forget the great courage, compassion and wisdom of this great lady, and that we in the House can be inspired by her strong determination to do justice to those who elect us. I express my strong sympathy to Monica's family, who are in attendance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I ask everyone to stand for a brief prayer or reflection.

  Members rose.


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