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Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire: Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire] This was before my time but I would have often heard reference to the area surrounding Macroom as Creed country. I am sure that the Moynihans might dispute that but I am sure that Michael will attempt to reinforce that. Donal's track record over so many years enforced the strength and popularity he had on the ground with his service on Cork County Council and in the European Parliament. In the Dáil, his contribution to the national lottery and the various Departments has already been outlined. His enduring popularity was clear evidence of his decency, his ordinary common touch with people and his being a gentleman. I express my sympathies to Madeleine, to Michael - I am sure he was very proud of all his many achievements - to Marcella, Suzanne, Louise, Michelle, Madeleine, who I know from Cork County Council and an excellent public servant in her own right, and Claire and Nuala who predeceased Donal. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis agus mo chomhbhrón leis an teaghlach uile.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As a Tánaiste from Cork, I thought it was appropriate to say a few words and, of course, to offer my sympathy to Donal Creed's family, many of whom I know very well. I also wish to honour him today because that is what this is really about. Not many of us in this House can represent constituents for almost a quarter of a century. That is what Donal Creed did in two different constituencies. Very few people in this House will have fought eight general elections and won each of them. Very few of us in this House have the privilege of getting to the very top of local electoral politics, as he did when he was chair of Cork County Council, which believe me one does not achieve unless one is respected across-party as well as within one's own party, as well as having served here for 24 years, and also have been in the European Parliament in what were really the formation years of that parliament. Not surprisingly, he served on the agriculture committee there. As ever, he made an insightful contribution to EU political thinking on agricultural, as well as representing Ireland's interests. He was a Minister of State, in fact, on three occasions, through a very volatile period, as Deputy Micheál Martin referred to. I can remember that period as a child, because my own father won a seat, lost a seat, and won a seat again, over the space of three years. I can remember what that was like in a political family, to deal with such wins and losses.

He was a Minister of State for school buildings and sport, which has been referred to, and at the end of that period managed to get the Government to agree to setting up the national lottery, which was also referred to by a lot of people because it was a significant achievement. It was not easily done at the time and it took typical Creed steeliness and determination to insist on winning that argument, which he did. Virtually every town and parish across the country have benefitted from hundreds of millions of euro as a result of this.

He was also Minister of State for housing for a short period of time, and Minister of State for health in 1981, briefly. These are two pretty tough briefs now, housing and health, but these were no problem at the time to Donal Creed. He remains a much loved figure across Cork, partly because of the fact that he represented two constituencies at different times, but still, when one canvasses rural parts of Cork, people will talk and tell stories about Donal Creed coming into the farmyard, whether they are Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael people or something else-----

(Interruptions).

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Okay, Sinn Féin or Labour - given the day that is in it, I did not want to give the others too much recognition.

There are very few people in politics, particularly those in politics for 24 years, who leave politics with absolute respect and who still do not have anybody speaking badly about them. He was one of those unique figures. In many ways he was from the politics of a different time. He was rural, pragmatic but really ambitious for Cork and like all of the Creeds was insightful, really smart and really tough when he needed to be. That is a trait that we see now in his son, a colleague and friend of mine in Cabinet at a tough time for the country, when it comes to agriculture and leadership in that crucial sector for our rural economy and indeed for our economy as a whole. Donal would be extraordinarily proud of the contribution that Michael is making at a time of potentially great peril for the agricultural industry and family farming across the country, given the links, concerns and vulnerabilities to Brexit.

Like the Taoiseach, I would like to quote Marcella, who spoke about her father at a very sad funeral and at a very sad period for that family, given that seven weeks earlier Claire had passed away in a very untimely way. She said of her father, first of all that he had a life well-lived. That is true and is reinforced from all statements here today. She also said, which really summed him up from everything that I have heard about him, that her father was always at heart a farmer, who loved both the land and nature but also took enormous pride in being elected by the people of Cork North-West to represent them in the Dáil from 1965 to 1989. In some ways that sums up who he was, which was an incredibly modest man who loved the land, walking the land and cultivating the land, particularly in his retirement with his children and grandchildren. He was also somebody who, quietly at times but very firmly, made a huge impact on public life. That is being recognised today.

I say to his family, to Madeleine, of course, but also to Marcella, Michelle, Madeleine, Suzanne and Louise, and of course, to Michael, that they have a lot to be proud of, as indeed does Fine Gael, in the contributions of the Creed family, but in particular of Donal.

There is an interesting political connection with my own family, in fact, because Michelle, Donal's daughter, nominated my father to stand for politics, and the late Claire nominated me at convention as well. The connections between the Creeds and the Coveneys, politically, have been strong and have been personal and that is why I am so pleased to honour an extraordinary individual this morning.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I thank the House and all of the previous speakers for the very kind tributes they have paid to my late father. My father was quintessentially a quiet and shy man and I am sure he listened with great interest to all of the contributions and pinched himself on more than one occasion, on hearing the tributes that have been paid to him.

My father was hugely conscious of the honour that was bestowed upon him by the people, originally of Mid-Cork, and subsequently of Cork North-West. He never failed to understand the critical connection between being a public representative and the public. That is a message that he conveyed strongly to myself and one that is understood by all successful politicians in this House and elsewhere. It is inevitable that in the context of tributes in this House that they are invariably framed in the context of the public man, whether it was his time as a member of Cork County Council, which he hugely appreciated and enjoyed, as a Member of this House, as a Member of the European Parliament or, dare I say, even his membership of Fine Gael, which was a lifelong membership which he truly treasured. None of those aforementioned defined him in itself. He was, like all of us, multidimensional.


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