Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy.

Tá áthas orm an deis seo a bheith agam labhairt ar Billy Kenneally, go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire air. Ar dtús báire, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh lena theaghlach. Fear dúshlánach dílis a bhí in Billy. Fuair sé bás i mí Lúnasa agus bhí an Teach ar athló ag an am. Tá an-áthas orm go bhfuil a chlann anseo in éineacht linn go gcloisfidh siad ón Teach agus chun deis a thabhairt dúinn ómós a leiriú d'fhear ar son na maitheasa a rinne sé san Oireachtas.

We were saddened to learn of the death in August of former Deputy and Senator William Kenneally. Billy had a long life packed full of achievement and public service. He was one of Waterford's favourite sons and as a businessman, a politician and in everyday community life, he made an important and lasting contribution to the development of the south east region. He was a life-long member of Fianna Fáil and on behalf of all of our parliamentary party, may I say that we are grateful for his sterling efforts in promoting and working for Fianna Fáil over many years. His dedication played a massive part in the success of Fianna Fáil and the progress of his local community.

Billy grew up in a political family. He had a profound respect for the membership of Fianna Fáil having grown up in the party tradition. His father, William Kenneally Snr, was a prominent figure in the party in Waterford and he served the people of Waterford from 1952 to 1961 in Dáil Éireann. This was the proud political legacy on which in the course of an exemplary career Billy would build, bringing further distinction to himself and a great Waterford political family.

Billy Kenneally took his first steps as a public representative in the Lemass era, and Billy was very much a politician of that time. Like Lemass, he had a strong sense of patriotism and he shared Lemass's impatience for progress. He had a deep-seated belief in business and enterprise as an engine to drive national development. Indeed, Billy's background was in business and he was a partner in the successful Kenneally City Bus Company which for many years was a great Waterford institution and provided an important transport service to the people of Waterford city and county.

Billy contested his first election in the general election of 1961. He was unlucky not to take a seat on that occasion and was only denied by the fact that the constituency had lost a seat from the previous election in a revision of constituencies. However, he persevered and subsequently, he was co-opted onto the council. He understood well Tip O'Neill's famous maxim that "all politics are local". For Billy Kenneally, the whole purpose of politics was serving his local community, taking on board their concerns, making them his own and doing everything in his power to improve the quality of life for his native community.

The respect that his neighbours, friends and fellow citizens in Waterford had for Billy is evident from the fact that he was given the great distinction of serving the community as mayor of Waterford. It is also manifest in the fact that on five consecutive occasions the people of Waterford elected him as their representative in Dáil Éireann. In the general election of 1965, Billy topped the poll and he repeated this feat in the 1969 and 1977 general elections.

Billy's time in Leinster House was one of service, hard work and achievement. He was an immensely popular politician and he was held in great affection by colleagues on all sides of the House. He did valuable work on the Council of Europe from 1971 to 1973 during a period when Ireland's relationship with Europe was a dominant theme of public debate. He served as the Fianna Fáil Front-Bench spokesperson on fisheries in Opposition between 1973 and 1975, and had a close and friendly relationship with George Colley and Jack Lynch.

When Fianna Fáil returned to power in 1977, Jack Lynch asked him to fill the difficult role of chairman of the parliamentary party. His tenure coincided with one of the most volatile periods in Fianna Fáil's history and it is testament to his character and his ability that he is still remembered as an excellent chairman of the party. He was utterly fair and someone who had no time for internal rifts. His focus was always on the betterment of his party and his community, never on personalities or in-fighting.

My time in Leinster House missed overlapping with Billy's by a number of years, but I know he was a great voice of experience in the party as he had lived through some of the most remarkable times in 20th century Irish politics. The Taoiseach has asked me say that he regrets not being able to be here this morning due to the talks in Northern Ireland and to pass on his good wishes to the Kenneally family. The Taoiseach wishes to be associated with the words this morning paying tribute to Billy as he remembers him as an inspiration to all those who value public service.

To the end, Billy maintained a keen interest in politics and public life. He was, of course, rightly proud of the political achievements of his son Brendan, our friend and colleague here in Dáil Éireann. I am sure that Brendan will draw on Billy's fine legacy and his high example in public service as he continues to serve the people of Waterford in the same dedicated and distinguished fashion as his father.

May I extend my sympathies and those of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Government to Billy's family, to his wife Maureen, to his sons, our colleague, Brendan, and Donal, Kevin, Patrick and Martin, and to all his other family members and many, many friends.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

On behalf of the Fine Gael Party, I extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Kenneally family, to Maureen, Billy's wife, to Brendan, Donal, Kevin, Patrick and Martin, to his brother Jackie and his sister Kathleen, and to the extended family for his passing some time ago.

These occasions arise for the families of Members of the Oireachtas. They are always occasions where people have lost a husband or wife, father, son or daughter as the case may be, and the constituents of the constituency and the place they represented have lost somebody who they returned on possibly numerous occasions. When one looks through the Dáil records, the Dáil books as they used be, and sees names of Deputies who stood up in these seats and said their piece on behalf of their constituents, in many cases one never knew them, one does not know their names or did not know much about them. Those who came into the House, except for representatives from the south east, may not have known Billy Kenneally.

I was here for 11 of his 16 years of service and as the Tánaiste pointed out, they were some of the most tumultuous occasions within the Fianna Fáil Party. Sometimes one would question whether they were all for the good of the country or for personal advancement or whatever. Often these corridors, the Ceann Comhairle will recall, were filled with determined people about issues that were being discussed and often I had words with the chairman of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party at the time in those corridors and he used say, "How am I ever going to keep them all quiet when this starts again?", with the cameras were outside on the street until 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock in the morning.

Leaving aside his chairmanship of a party that was going through some robust times, Billy Kenneally was first and foremost a Waterford representative and represented the people of his city and county with commitment and diligence. He was never afraid to speak out in the way he did on the issues that were important to him, and that was reflected in his mayoralty of his native city. He had a deep sense of personal family pride that his father and himself, and his son Brendan, were all returned by the people of Waterford to represent them in this House and that is why this was one case where the family seat was always at issue. No doubt when election time would come, would be in sight or was sprung on people suddenly, as happened in 1973 or whatever, in the wider family group it was a case of everyone being on deck to do the business and letting the people make their judgment.

I recall Billy Kenneally speaking in the House on many occasions both from the Opposition and Government sides. He was a very fair minded man and he spoke out especially with regard to local issues in Waterford and issues he believed were important. I realise for Maureen and the family there is a sense of loss and it is the end of that era but, as a wife and mother, I am sure it is important for her and her family to know that her son is here to carry on the good work of her husband in so far as the people of Waterford allow it to happen. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. During my earlier years here I was pleased to have made the acquaintance of Billy Kenneally to discuss the mechanics of politics and how they worked both on his side and mine.

On behalf of the Labour Party I wish to pay tribute to the late former Deputy, Billy Kenneally, to sympathise with his family on his passing, to sympathise with the Fianna Fáil Party on the loss of one of its great servants and especially to sympathise with our colleague, Deputy Brendan Kenneally. I did not have the privilege of knowing Billy Kenneally as he was here before my time, but from what I have heard from my colleague, Deputy Brian O'Shea, from what I have read of his political career and from what I was aware of at the time when I followed politics in the newspapers and so on, I have gathered that Billy Kenneally made a remarkable contribution to the House and to his constituency. He was a Member for 17 years, elected to the House on five successive occasions, a Member of Seanad Éireann and the mayor of Waterford on two occasions. He was a man who gave great service to the people of his constituency and who made a significant contribution to his political party, as Deputy Kenny and the Tánaiste have noted. He chaired that party at a time of great difficulty and turbulence and at a time of great change in the country. I am aware from my conversations with Deputy Brian O'Shea that Billy Kenneally was also a man of strong views and strongly held values, something to which we should give more attention to in political life in these modern times. Thar ceann an Lucht Oibre ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a ghabháil le clann Kenneally, go háirithe lenár gcomhghleacaí an Teachta Brendan Kenneally, agus lena pháirtí, Fianna Fáil. Is léir ón méid atá léite agam gur thug an Teachta Billy Kenneally seirbhís dílis do mhuintir na nDéise agus dá pháirtí. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

On behalf of the Green Party I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of the late Billy Kenneally. As with Deputy Gilmore, I did not know Billy Kenneally personally but several years ago I when I was in opposition I was on holidays in France, of all places, and I woke up one morning to discover that my next door neighbour was Deputy Brendan Kenneally. We were there for two weeks beside each other. During that period we swapped many stories and I believe I became familiar with the politics of Waterford city during that time. It was a great privilege to find out about how political families work. I do not come from a political family but I am aware these dynasties exist on both sides of the House, whether in the case of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and in some cases, the Labour Party.

Since 1942 the Kenneally family has served Waterford city with great distinction. Billy Kenneally continued the proud tradition of service of his father, William senior, established in Waterford City Council, by following in his footsteps in 1960. Billy went on to become the mayor of his city twice during his time on the council, a position whose duties he carried out with great pride. As has been outlined already, Billy represented Waterford in these Houses, entering for the first time in 1965. His electoral success would be the envy of many currently sitting in the House because he was returned for four consecutive terms over the course of 17 years. He completed his time in Leinster House with a term in the Seanad after his last election in 1982. From speaking to Deputy Kenneally, I am aware of Billy's great pride and that of his family when he followed Brendan's success in the 1989 election and regained the seat that he held for so long. I imagine Billy was a source of inspiration and wisdom for Brendan in those early years and, in turn, Billy must have taken great pride in his son's success at that election. I extend my sympathies and those of my party to his wife, Maureen, and sons Brendan, Donal, Kevin, Patrick and Martin and the rest of the extended family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Ar son Teachtaí Dála Shinn Féin, ba mhaith liom ar gcomhbhrón a ghabháil le clann Kenneally ar bhás an iar-Theachta Billy Kenneally. On behalf of the Sinn Féin Deputies I extend our sympathy and condolences to the Kenneally family, to the wife and children of the late former Deputy, Billy Kenneally, and especially to our Dáil colleague, Deputy Brendan Kenneally, on their family's great loss. As in the case of some previous speakers, I am here a good deal shorter time than others who have spoken and I did not have the honour of serving with the former Deputy Billy Kenneally in this House. However, I wish to reflect on the excellent, cordial and courtesy-based relationship I have with his son and to indicate that we share with each of the Deputies who have spoken already a sincere wish to convey our sympathy not only to the family but also to the Fianna Fáil Party, to which Billy Kenneally gave great service over a long period of his life. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I am very pleased to be associated with this tribute. I welcome the Kenneally family here for the tribute to Billy. Some speakers have mentioned that they did not know Billy personally and my party leader, Deputy Kenny, noted that sometimes it happens that people stand up to pay tribute to people they have never met. My mother reminded me that I knew him and that I had met him several times. I informed Brendan of this last week and that Billy used to buy me lemonade when I was a kid visiting the Dáil. My mother asked me if I remembered this and I did. He was always there with a few pence to buy me a bottle of lemonade when my father brought me up to the Dáil.

To put aside the Fianna Fáil — Fine Gael rivalry, the word most people in Waterford would use to describe Billy is "generous". I spoke to my father and it is a word he used to describe Billy. He remarked that Billy was a very fair and respectful person, very likable and someone with whom it was very easy to work. Since I have been here I cannot say as much for everyone but certainly I can say it of Brendan. The experience of my father was the same. Also, I had the experience of being a member of Waterford County Council with Patsy Kenneally. I can say the same of Patsy and that there was always an honest opinion, given quickly, something rare in politics and very refreshing.

The Kenneally family has probably one of the longest lineages in Irish politics. It stretches back to the 1930s. Last week, Deputy Brendan Kenneally told me that his grandfather served in this House for nine or ten years. Deputy Gormley made a telling remark, which I will turn around a little. He said he got to know Brendan over the course of two weeks and that this is when he learned how political families in this country work. The operative word is "work". The reason people such as the Kenneallys continue to be re-elected in Waterford is that they work for people. They have that reputation and it is important to point that out. That stood to them, particularly to Billy, who sat in this House for 17 years.

Again, I welcome the Kenneally family to the House and welcome being associated with this tribute. My father asked me to say that he wishes to be associated with the tribute as well.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Cheann Comhairle as ucht an seans a thabhairt dom páirt a ghlacadh sna ráitis chomhbhrón seo. Thar ceann Páirtí an Lucht Oibre i gContae Phort Láirge agus thar mo cheann féin, ba mhaith liom ár gcomhbhrón a chur in iúl do chlann Uí Chionnfhaolaidh.

I did not have the privilege of serving in either Dáil Éireann or Seanad Éireann with Billy Kenneally. He had left the national scene by the time I was first elected. With regard to Waterford County Council and Waterford City Council, I was elected in 1985, the year Billy retired from local government. However, I knew Billy all my life. When I became involved in politics the description usually given of Billy Kenneally was that he was a gentleman. He was respected on all sides of politics. As I got to know him better, I realised how proud he was to take part in the profession of politics and how committed he was to the democratic system.

He brought a set of personal values to both politics and the democratic system. He was shrewd and humorous. When one met him one always had a laugh and one always left his company feeling better. He was compassionate and close to people, which was one of his great strengths. He understood people's needs. People understood that and called on him for assistance on many occasions. Many people in Waterford fondly remember Billy Kenneally for the assistance he gave them when they sought it in their time of need.

He was twice mayor of Waterford. While I did not have first-hand experience of his chairing the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, he had the ability to assess people and situations. There was an over-riding sense of fair play where Billy Kenneally was concerned. There has already been reference to the fraught times in Fianna Fáil while he was chairman. He was not a flashy man; that was never his way. He was dedicated and thorough. From everything I have heard, he did a great job at a time when there were enormous difficulties within the Fianna Fáil Party. On a slightly frivolous note, I always felt the Kenneally family had an unfair advantage in Waterford because the family name was flashing all day throughout the city and county on the buses. Deputy Brendan Kenneally still has that advantage, and good luck to him.

What struck one about Billy was that he was a family man. His pride in his children and in Brendan has already been mentioned. He was essentially a decent man who was liked and respected. He had a large impact on Waterford politics and achieved that without making enemies and by respecting those who stood for public office. That part of Billy Kenneally was hugely important in Waterford. It is something we should examine and seek to emulate. We can all get into crossfire and so forth but, ultimately, when we represent a constituency we are all in our own way trying to serve the people who elect us to the best of our ability.

He will be missed. I offer Maureen, our colleague, Brendan, Donal, Kevin, Patrick and Martin, Billy's brother, Jackie, and his sister, Kathleen, our greatest sympathy. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I offer Mrs. Maureen Kenneally and our colleague, Deputy Brendan Kenneally, our sincerest sympathy on the death of Billy Kenneally. Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Members rose.