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Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 983 No. 5

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  1 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty] He was part of our first team of representatives in 1973 and was directly elected on a number of occasions thereafter right up until he left in 1986 to become a member of the European Court of Auditors. He served in a number of public service roles following his retirement from front-line politics. His contribution is to be marked and welcomed. I am sure that his family and his party are rightly proud of his lengthy career in public service. I extend my sympathies to his children, Declan, Cillian, Ultan, Aoife and Bláthnaid, and to all his friends and family as well as his colleagues in Fine Gael.

Similarly, I did not know Mr. Browne. He served before my time in this House. He too had a lengthy career here in Leinster House, including in the Seanad, and in local politics. He spent three terms in the Dáil representing the people of Carlow-Kilkenny and served as a member of Carlow County Council. Níl dabht ar bith go raibh seirbhís fád-téarma aige ó thaobh polaitíochta de go háitiúil, sa Seanad agus sa Dáil. Bhí sé ábalta na tránna sin uile a fhreastal don phobal ag an am céanna agus é mar dhuine as Contae an Chláir. That he managed to do all of that - to serve on Carlow County Council repeatedly, to be elected to the Dáil, to serve in the Seanad, and to represent the people of Carlow and the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny - despite being a Clare man is a mighty feat. I am sure that his family and his party colleagues are very proud of his long career in public service, a tradition carried on to this day by his son, Fergal, who is a councillor in County Carlow. Bhí gairm fhada aige in oifig phoiblí agus táim cinnte go bhfuil a mhuintir agus a pháirtí bródúil as gach aon rud a rinne sé ina sheal sa Seanad, ar an gcomhairle, agus anseo sa Dáil. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Nancy, his daughters, Carmel, Deirdre and Geraldine, his son, Fergal, all his grandchildren, his friends, his extended family, and his colleagues in Fine Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin On behalf of the Labour Party, I join all my colleagues in the House in expressing our appreciation for the honourable service of two very distinguished former Members and in offering our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and political party of both Richie Ryan and John Browne.

  Richie Ryan was well known across Ireland for decades. My own political mentor, Brendan Corish, was Tánaiste in that famous Government that ran from 1973 to 1977 in which Richie Ryan was a distinguished Minister for Finance in the most difficult of times. I myself know something about trying to manage finances in difficult times. I know the sort of pressures that were on him. I recall conversations I had with Brendan Corish subsequently. He held Richie Ryan in enormously high regard and considered him to have courageously done right by the country regardless of the pressures on him. That is the sort of service that ultimately stands to a person. His family can be extraordinarily proud of him.

  I am wryly amused at some of the titles Richie Ryan accrued in his life in politics, one of which was "Red Richie". From a Labour Party perspective he may not have earned that title but his Government did introduce a wealth tax. I believe it was "Hall's Pictorial Weekly" that determined he merited that title. I imagine he was quite amused by it himself.

  Others have said that he was a pathfinder for Ireland in Europe. As a new member of what was then the European Community, Ireland needed people of his experience, calibre and vision to reach out within the European institutions, especially the European Parliament which was embryonic at that stage. He then served as a distinguished member of the European Court of Auditors because of his incredible experience.

  One thing which has not been mentioned is his legal work. He took on, pro bono, some important legal cases that changed the course of history here. Some of his legal challenges helped to broaden the rights base of all our citizens, which gave rise to what are now known as unenumerated rights under the Constitution. In many ways these invited the courts to advance the rights base of all our citizens. He had many dimensions as a public servant. If any of us could look back on a career with that level of public service, we would do so with a great sense of pride. I send my deepest condolences and those of the Labour Party to Richie Ryan's family, friends, and party.

  I knew John Browne. He and I came into the House by the same means at the same time. We were both Taoiseach's nominees to the Seanad way back in 1983. Getting a Taoiseach's nomination is a very easy route by which to get into politics. One just needs the vote of one individual.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Deputy Howlin was blessed.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It cuts down on the effort of canvassing. I had just contested my first election of any description in Wexford - I stood for the Dáil - when I was appointed to that Seanad. I got to know John Browne in that context. I did not realise until his passing that he was a Clare man. I always assumed he was a native son of Carlow. He never gave me any indication that he was not. He was not only a fluent Irish speaker but extraordinarily proud of an teanga Ghaelach. He used the Irish language to great effect and with great fluency whenever he could. He was also the health spokesman for Fine Gael in the difficult period of the 1990s. When we went into government, I became Minister for Health. I remember his views on matters at that time. I know of his involvement in the GAA. He brought a sense of calm and determination to, and adjudicated honourably on, most of the issues with which he dealt. To his wife, Nancy, his son, Fergal, who continues the tradition in politics, and his daughters, Carmel, Deirdre, and Geraldine, I send my deepest condolences and those of my party. All friends of both of the individuals we honour today can reflect with great honour and pride on their service to our country and to our parliamentary traditions.

Deputy Michael Harty: Information on Michael Harty Zoom on Michael Harty I pay tribute to the former Deputy, John Browne. He was a native of my own parish of Kilmihil in County Clare. In fact, when I look out my breakfast room window in the morning, I see his home across the valley. I knew John very well and I particularly know his daughter, Carmel, who is the principal of the primary school in Kilmihil. I had the pleasure of meeting Carmel here in the company of her father two years ago when Kilmihil national school came to visit the Dáil. John Browne had a passion for education which he passed on to his family, including both Carmel and his son, Fergal, who is the principal of St. Joseph's national school in Carlow. I express my sympathy to Carmel, to all family members and, in particular, to Nancy Browne, who has been a frequent visitor to Kilmihil. It was my pleasure to look after the Browne family for many years in my former role as a GP. John died at the age of 82 and he still maintained the affection of the House. He came to the celebrations of the centenary of the Dáil last January and, as I have said, he was here two years ago in the company of the primary school in Kilmihil. In fact, he had the pleasure of meeting his grandchildren-in-law - I believe that is the proper way to describe them - who came as part of that delegation.


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