That the Ceann Comhairle direct the Clerk of the Dáil to issue his Writ for the election of a Member to fill the vacancy which has occurred in the membership of the present Dáil consequent on the death on 10 June 2011 of Deputy Brian Lenihan, a Member for the Constituency of Dublin West.
It is with a true sense of sadness that I move the writ occasioned by the passing of a remarkable politician and good friend to so many of us in this House. It is hard to believe it is less than four months since Brian Lenihan left us. I know I speak for every one of his colleagues on the Fianna Fáil benches when I say we miss so much his enthusiasm, humour, wise counsel, political brilliance and, most of all, friendship.
I take the opportunity to thank the Taoiseach, the leaders of all the others parties and all other Members of this House who spoke so genuinely and generously about Brian Lenihan when we paid tribute to him in June. In Brian's case, all of that praise was well deserved and hard earned.
The loss of Brian Lenihan to Irish public life is immense. As I said previously, he was undoubtedly the outstanding public representative of this generation. We, in Fianna Fáil, are fiercely proud of him and what he achieved for Dublin West and Ireland. The courage and commitment he showed in staying in his post as Minister for Finance while battling a terminal illness and the exemplary manner in which he carried out his duties defined grace under pressure.
Brian Lenihan faced events of a scale and magnitude with which no other Irish Minister has ever had to contend. He did an outstanding job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. He was prepared to take unpopular choices, knowing there would be a political price to pay for them, because he believed such decisions had to be taken for the long-term good of the country. He was criticised by many, especially at the time of the last budget, but that budget is on track and winning international notice, something the Taoiseach recognised last week. It is becoming increasingly clear the measures Brian set in train were the right ones to stabilise the economy. The very fact that those who walked through the division lobbies in this House in opposition to Brian's policies are now enthusiastically implementing them in government shows that he made the right choices and that he had the courage of his convictions. Irrespective of the political battles in which we engage at election time or in debate in this House, it is proper that this point should be acknowledged and respected by everyone.
We, in Fianna Fáil, are proud of Brian Lenihan's work and will continue to defend his reputation and protect his legacy. Nowhere is the inspiring Lenihan legacy stronger than in Dublin West. For 34 years Brian and his distinguished father before him gave remarkable service to their constituents across Dublin 15. It is hardly surprising that for many in Dublin West, the Lenihan name is a by-word for efficiency and getting things done locally.
Brian Lenihan was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in April 1996 and the people of Dublin West returned him to the Dáil in four subsequent general elections. Even when the tide was out for Fianna Fáil across the capital last February, Brian's constituents in Dublin West stood by him. In the end they did not let him down in his final electoral battle, in which there was a sense of poetic justice because he had delivered day and night for people locally. He was a politician who was respected and admired across the political spectrum in Dublin West for his great work rate on behalf of the constituency.
Only last Thursday on the streets of Castleknock time and again I was reminded of the enormous regard in which Brian Lenihan had been held by the people he represented. I always knew about his huge commitment to the people of Dublin West and it was wonderful to meet so many people who remembered him with such fondness. People spoke to me about the tremendous work he had done in securing investment for Connolly hospital, the tireless support he had given to St. Francis's hospice in Dublin 15, his commitment to local sports clubs across Dublin West such as St. Brigid's and Castleknock Celtic, his work in delivering a new railway station on the Navan Road and his efforts in developing Blanchardstown Institute of Technology. There are so many issues on which and so many people for whom Brian delivered during his 15 years as a public representative. There can be no doubt he leaves behind a stunning record of achievement and accomplishment on behalf of the community in Dublin West.
That great tradition of service to his neighbours, community and local people that characterised Brian Lenihan's career is something the Dublin West Fianna Fáil organisation is determined to preserve and build upon in this by-election. We are proud to have Mr. David McGuinness as our candidate. It would be unfair to say no one could fill the shoes of a political giant like Brian Lenihan but in David McGuinness, Fianna Fáil has a candidate of immense potential and with a true commitment to his locality. He is a young man completely dedicated to the community in which he was born and bred. He is a teacher in Riversdale community college and passionate about education as a vehicle towards social opportunity. He is extremely active in the local community of Dublin 15 and serves on the boards of management of Castleknock community college, Coolmine community school, Luttrellstown community college, Blakestown school and Pobal Scoil Setanta in Ongar. His work locally has given him a strong insight into and grasp of the issues that matter to the people of Dublin West.
Aged only 25 years, David McGuinness was the youngest Fianna Fáil councillor elected in the country at the last local elections. He also ably supported Brian Lenihan in February in a very difficult election for Fianna Fáil. Brian was determined that David would run alongside him in the last general election, even when some party strategists argued that running one candidate might be the best option to retain the Fianna Fáil seat. It is a measure of the man that he still managed to keep his eye focused on the needs of the future. He felt it was important that a young candidate be given the experience of running in a general election in the hope this would stand to the party and the constituency at a later date.
David McGuinness was someone Brian Lenihan had encouraged in politics from the first day David joined Ógra Fianna Fáil in Dublin West. Brian was a firm believer in the necessity of bringing forward young people as a force for renewal and vitality in our political system. David's career in politics is testament to this. We look forward to him fulfilling all the potential Brian first saw in him when he encouraged him to seek a career in politics and give of himself to public service.
David McGuinness is young man of integrity and ability and has a phenomenal work rate. These are all values he learned working alongside Brian Lenihan during the years. With all our Fianna Fáil members in Dublin West, he will be doing his utmost to ensure that distinguished tradition of local representation continues in Dáil Éireann.
In the next four weeks Fianna Fáil will be campaigning hard to support our candidate, David McGuinness, in the by-election. David's campaign will be a positive one highlighting the issues that matter to local people and articulating the concerns about which he hears on the doorsteps of Dublin West in places such as Corduff, Ladyswell, Huntstown, Hartstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Clonee, Tyrrelstown, the Ward, Blanchardstown, Carpenterstown, Porterstown, Castleknock and Swords. Dublin West is a constituency which has been particularly badly hit by many of the problems of the economic crisis. Both long-established and new communities are struggling with mortgage debt, unemployment and new pressures on local schools. There has been a 3% increase in unemployment in Dublin West in the past six months and David will campaign on the need to create and defend IDA jobs in the constituency.
Until recent times Dublin West was one of the fastest growing suburbs in Europe and even today the population of the constituency is far younger than the national average. These demographics tell their own story in the context of a harsh recession in which many young families are grappling with unemployment, mortgage debt and negative equity. Commuters are also suffering as Dublin West is far above the national average for the time residents spend in getting to and from work or school. This is not helped by the recent illogical move to upgrade Chesterfield Avenue during the busiest traffic months of the year and the inexplicable decision by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to block the shovel ready status of metro west, a project for which he had vehemently campaigned when on this side of the House.
With two Ministers immersed in Departments, Dublin West needs sensible and hard-working representation at local level. David McGuinness is that candidate. The problems the people of Dublin West are experiencing will not be solved by the parties of the hard left which offer nothing but the politics of protest, empty rhetoric and, in the final analysis, no credible solutions. Dublin West also does not need another voiceless Government backbench Deputy whose election would serve no purpose but to bolster an already massive majority. What Dublin West needs is a hard-working, enthusiastic local representative who is committed to holding the Government to account and delivering sane and sensible solutions to the problems and issues of concern to the people of the constituency. David McGuinness is that candidate and Fianna Fáil will be making the case for his election on 27 October. We believe he is the best candidate and will be doing our level best to ensure he follows in the footsteps of Brian Lenihan, a politician and friend whom we all miss greatly.