Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

Táimid bailithe anseo chun comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann P.J. Morley agus, mar aon le sin, léiriú do chách an méad measa a bhí againn go léir air agus an méid oibre a rinne sé ar son muintir na tíre, go háirithe ar son mhuintir Mhaigh Eo. Nuair a fuair P.J. bás i mí Dheireadh Fómhair seo chaite, bhí sé soiléir do gach éinne ag an tóramh an méid measa a bhí ag muintir Chnoc Mhuire agus ag muintir na dúiche mór-thimpeall air. Is léir go raibh P.J. ar a shuaimhneas i measc na ndaoine agus go raibh na daoine ar a suaimhneas le P.J. Fear mór na dúiche ab ea é. Bhí sé ina mhúinteoir agus ina pholaiteoir den scoth. Bhí tionchar faoi leith aige ar chúrsaí eacnamaíochta, soisialta agus cultúrtha i Maigh Eo agus san tír. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son ghnáth mhuintir a dháilcheantair agus na tíre. Cuirim fáilte go háirithe roimh a bhean, Mary, a iníon, Cathy, agus Patrick, Enda agus Brian, agus le John Carty, a comhghleacaí, agus an tIar-Aire, Sean Calleary, atá anseo inniu.

P.J. Morley was a decent, modest man, who committed his life's work to public service to his country and, in particular, to the people of Mayo. I would again like to offer my sincere condolences to P.J.'s wife, Mary, his daughter, Cathy, his sons, Patrick, Enda and Brian, and, of course, his beloved grandchildren.

I met P.J. when I was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1989. In trying to come to grips with this tumultuous House, and the difficulties that a new Deputy can encounter, I found P.J. a calming influence who showed us the ropes of Leinster House and who gave quiet guidance in the early years of my own political career. Many of us were thankful to him for that kind of guidance in a period which was quite exciting for different reasons, and where there were significant personalities about the place - on all sides, may I say.

He was a man with quiet determination. He went out and got the job done. It is fair to say he was very well liked across the political divide and he had great time for people, with his natural, quiet warmth of character. Starting out, this was a strength he carried with him as a teacher. From his home in Mayo, he brought that into the corridors of Leinster House and beyond to the halls of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg.

Beneath that unassuming nature and distinctive good fun, however, there was a driving commitment to public service and to looking after people. That commitment saw him first elected to Mayo County Council in 1969, a position he held for three decades before he retired. During that time, he also had the honour of serving as Cathaoirleach of the county and distinguished himself in that office. This was a commitment to public service that led him to fight nine gruelling general elections. As some will remember, these represented some of the fiercest electoral campaigns this country has ever seen. He was first elected in 1977, with the landslide victory of then Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, and beginning, as we know, a fairly turbulent period in Irish politics. However, throughout the turbulence and controversies, he managed to serve the people with characteristic dignity and modesty.

The infrastructural benefits of his work in the Dáil and the council are still to be seen in Mayo today in road and water projects across the county. They, in themselves, represent a lifetime of hard work and effort on behalf of the people of Mayo to secure vital investment for the west. He never lost sight of why he was here. He was in Dáil Éireann, he was a man of the people and he wanted to achieve for his people.

We do not have to look far to find what P.J.'s most remarkable achievement was.

People often say that politics is the art of the possible but with Knock Airport, P.J. may have proved people wrong. In the teeth of opposition from a significant Dublin 4 set - I see the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform smiling - which said this would never work, P.J. had the vision, commitment and belief to drive the project forward. His close working relationship with the late Monsignor Horan helped to bring to fruition a bold project that defied and continues to defy the critics. P.J. played a vital role in persuading the then Taoiseach Charles J. Haughey to come on board for the project and securing what Monsignor Horan called "the greatest day in the history of Connacht for a hundred years". When that first plane taxied up the freshly paved runway and took flight for Rome in 1985, P.J. Morley clearly played his part. The people of the west and the entire country enjoy the lasting benefits of Knock Airport, a major infrastructural boost to the region that accommodates hundreds of thousands of passengers year on year. As we reflect on the energy and difficulty involved in getting such a massive project over the line in politics, we can see that P.J.'s work contributed to what is truly a remarkable achievement and is a real inspiration to those of us committed to bettering our country through public service.

P.J. had that kind of quiet commitment to public service that toils away not for profit or glory but for the common good. His cause was the ordinary people he represented and their fight was his fight. In a time of much cynicism about public life, the quiet, modest, unassuming but profound commitment of P.J. Morley to public service stands out as a shining example. That fire of commitment towards the ideal of public service was clearly the guiding light of his life. Those are the best traditions of Irish politics and P.J. embodied those principles. The Ireland into which he was born in 1931 was clearly a vastly different place to the one he left last October and it is perhaps difficult for contemporaries today to imagine the Mayo that P.J. Morley grew up in - the hard times people endured then and the stark challenges they had to overcome. Over his 81 years, P.J. saw immense transformations across this island but he was not content simply to be an observer in life. He wanted to better the world around him and played his part in shaping it. He knew that progress does not just happen but is driven by men and women who strive tirelessly towards it.

His legacy is greater and more enduring that any piece of infrastructure. His family can genuinely look at a life that has been well lived and see every day the impact he has had on their county and country. His overall legacy, however, is one of deep commitment to public service - a humble and understated desire to build on the work of those who gave up so much for us and to bequeath to the next generation the things the generation before us could not give. As long as that spirit is resilient to the test of time and as long as men and women of the calibre, integrity and modesty of P.J. Morley take up that cause, our future, even in these very difficult times, will be a bright and better one. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

P.J. Morley was a lovely man. He was a most genuine personality and I regarded him as a great friend in politics although he came from a different political persuasion. I served with P.J. as a councillor and Deputy over many years. He was a man driven by loyalty to his party, his native county of Mayo and, above all, to his family. I am glad that Mary and members of her family - Patrick, Enda, Brian and Cathy - are here.

P.J. served as a councillor and Deputy for over 40 years. When I mention his name, I can hear his infectious laugh and his understanding of the humour in Irish life at all times. He was always foremost in the pursuit of what was good for his county and constituents. He began his working life in my alma mater of St. Patrick's College in Drumcondra and went on to serve a wider community with great loyalty and distinction as a member of Mayo County Council, the Western Health Board and the County Mayo Vocational Educational Committee. He was a member of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, Muintir Na Tíre, the National Farmers Association, the Oireachtas Committee of Public Accounts and the Council of Europe.

Deputy Martin is right. He will always be remembered for his loyalty and consistent and persistent discussions about the development of the miracle at Knock. Monsignor Horan was a great friend of P.J. I agree that P.J. Morley was foremost in bringing the first eitleán to land at Barr na Cáóige when people could not understand what had happened up there.

I know that in his retirement, he reflected on his politics and life in general. The Ceann Comhairle will remember P.J. Morley as a Member of this House. I saw him flower when he became chairman of the Western Health Board. P.J. Morley had a really sharp mind on complex issues, be they capital budgets or health issues, and was able to segment the arguments like a good judge and lay out in sequence the plan and strategy to be followed. He was not above Machiavellian tactics inside his own party. In those days when there was no money in the Western Health Board, a most vociferous former Deputy who passed away, Seán Doherty, who was a member of the same board had a great rivalry in County Roscommon with his colleague, former Deputy Terry Leyden, who was exalted to the high office of Minister of State at the Department of Health. When things got very rough at the Western Health Board, as they often did, and there was no money for anything, P.J. Morley always had the answer. He would say "we'll summon the Minister of State to the next meeting." I am quite sure that had been arranged in advance.

I would like to say to Mary and all the family that I regarded P.J. as a great friend, a gentleman and someone who was exceptionally loyal to his family, party and people. I agree fully with Deputy Martin. He is a loss to our society and I hope he wrote down many of the stories he came across over his 40 years because the thread in there was one of understanding of human nature, the characteristics of the people of the west and the evidence of great humour in Irish life irrespective of the difficulties we might have faced. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Thar mo cheann féin agus thar ceann Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre, ba mhaith liom cur leis an méid atá ráite ag ceannaire Fhianna Fáil agus ag an Taoiseach faoin iar-Theachta PJ Morley. Bhí aithne agam air anseo mar Theachta Dála, bhí an-mheas agam air agus ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh lena bhean Máire agus lena chlann. On my behalf and that of the Labour Party, I extend our sincerest sympathies to P.J. Morley's wife Mary and his family, those living at home and abroad and his extended family. P.J. had a long and illustrious career in public life that spanned over three decades, from his work as a school principal through his work on Mayo County Council and then his election to the Seanad in 1973 and the Dáil in 1977. I know he is fondly remembered by all who worked with him. He had the ability to make and retain friends regardless of political persuasion. He was a proud Mayo man and an Irishman who served his constituents and the people of Ireland and Mayo to the best of his abilities.

He worked hard at both local and national level in a very determined way. He delivered many projects during his career. Deputy Micheál Martin referred to many of them, but the one for which he will be remembered most was securing Government support for Knock Airport during the 1980s at a time when many said it should not be done, that it was not a good idea, to put it mildly. It was a major accomplishment for him.

I got to know P. J. Morley when I was elected to the Dáil in the middle period of his time in this House. He was not one of the better known names in national politics at the time, but I got to know him very well in working with him on committees and here in the House. I was always struck by the very thoughtful way in which he approached issues. I noted the serious consideration he gave to legislative proposals, the way in which he held Ministers to account, his ability to work with Deputies, irrespective of their political persuasion or affiliation. He was very much a strong example of somebody who had public service running through his veins, from his time as a teacher and in the extension of that experience into his work as a public representative. It is an ethic that is sometimes forgotten in the modern day. There is such a thing as public service; there is such a thing as a public service ethic, and there is such a thing as a belief in public service. In my case, certainly, I recall being very impressed by the degree to which that made him tick, that it was what motivated him, what made him come here every day to work on behalf of his constituents. This is what impressed me when I came to the Dáil as a new Deputy. It was a privilege and a pleasure to have known him. I know that in the past 15 years or so he had more of an opportunity to spend time with his family. I have no doubt that the memories his family hold of that time will be greatly treasured. He was a man who was greatly respected in the Dáil and across the west he is a man who is very much remembered and respected. I express my sympathy to his wife, Mary, and his family. He will be fondly remembered in Leinster House.

Ní raibh aithne agamsa ar P.J. Morley, ach ó bheith ag éisteacht le ceannaire Fhianna Fáil, an Taoiseach agus an Tánaiste táim fíor-bhrónach faoi sin. Fear iontach a bhí ann de réir na scéalta. Ba mhaith liom, ar son Shinn Féin, fáilte mhór a chur roimh a bhean chéile Mary agus a chlann. Táim brónach agus ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh lena theaghlach ar fad.

I extend sympathy on behalf of Sinn Féin to P.J. Morley's family; his wife, Mary; his daughter, Cathy; and his sons Patrick, Enda and Brian, as well as his grandchildren and extended family circle. I did not know P. J. but listening to the tributes paid by the leader of Fianna Fáil, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, that was my loss. I also extend sympathy to the Fianna Fáil Party which has lost a diligent party activist who contributed much to it during his decades of public service. As we have heard, he was a member of Mayo County Council for more than 30 years, a Member of Seanad Éireann for five years and a Teachta Dála for 20 years. Although I never knew him, from all that I have read and been told about him, I know he was a committed public representative who worked diligently on behalf of the people of County Mayo and the Fianna Fáil Party. The big project with which he was associated was the airport at Knock. I do not know whether this is myth or fact, but I am advised that the airport project was cleared by the then Taoiseach, C. J. Haughey, on the understanding that it would have a grass runway. I do not know whether that is just one of the stories in County Mayo, but the fact that the airport is where it is says a lot for P.J.'s skills and Monsignor Horan.

Aside from the public service which we have noted and to which we have paid tribute, P. J. Morley was a husband, a father and a grandfather. We do not know about the private personal life of the man in the way that his wife does and the way his children and grandchildren do. However, his death will leave a huge gap in all of their lives. I am sure they take great comfort from knowing that throughout his long years of political activism he made a real difference to the lives of citizens and particularly the people of County Mayo. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.

On behalf of the Technical Group and Independent Deputies, I offer a fior fáilte den clann Morley. I express our sympathy on the passing last October of former Deputy P. J. Morley. I welcome his wife, Mary; daughter, Cathy; sons, Patrick, Enda and Brian; grandchildren and friends. I also welcome two former colleagues, Mr. John Carty and Mr. Sean Calleary. I also see one of his former colleagues in the Visitors Gallery, Senator Terry Leyden.

Like other speakers, I did not know P. J. Morley, but I have heard much about him and it was all about his good humour, hard work, honest endeavour and keen intellect. He served the public for 40 years. I do not think we will see the likes of this again. People gave service in difficult times without any of the support facilities we are fortunate to have available today. As with all families, this service will have taken its toll on his wife and family. Like the Taoiseach, he was a múinteoir. He went all the way from the corridors of Mayo County Council to the corridors of Strasbourg and Brussels as a member of the Council of Europe. He had a long life. As Deputy Micheál Martin noted, he was happy to help and provide assistance for new Teachtaí Dála. It is very important for new Deputies to have a role model who is willing to assist them. P. J. Morley was well liked on all sides of the political divide, whether in Mayo County Council or in this Chamber or during the five years he spent in Seanad Éireann. That says a lot for any man or former Member. He fought nine general elections and I am old enough to remember all of those elections. It was no mean feat to be returned to this House on so many occasions, having come in on the tide that brought Jack back. I hope the tide will bring the other Corkman back in days to come. It will be a different tide, that is, if the Taoiseach leaves us any House to come back to.

I can say to P. J. Morley's family that there are many monuments to his achievements in County Mayo, but, in particular, there is the testament of Knock regional airport, with which he was associated in company with the late great Monsignor Horan and Charles J. Haughey. I remember the opposition at the time from his colleagues on the other side of the political divide. However, the airport project was delivered and it is a lasting memorial to the three of them but, in particular, to the ground work done by and the sheer persistence of P. J. Morley, with some help, I am sure, from colleagues in County Mayo at the time. It gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Technical Group, to heartily welcome his wife and family and wish them well. I am confident that they cherish the wonderful legacy he has left them. This is an emotional time for them. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

It is an honour for me to rise to pay tribute to the late Patrick J. Morley, who was not just a predecessor in the Dáil but a family friend for as long as I can remember. I welcome Mary, Patrick, Brian, Enda, Cathy and the members of his extended family who are in attendance today. They will want me to thank all party leaders for their very kind tributes to P. J. this morning.

For as long as I knew him, P. J. Morley represented decency, integrity and public service. He was a man with a great sense of humour and commitment. Every person who votes No. 1 for any Member on any side of the House has with that Member a unique bond of trust and expects to be represented. As a teacher, P. J. had an extra-special bond of trust through being in charge of the futures of so many people in his village. He exercised that trust to the utmost and with integrity and dignity throughout his life.

Many people have associated P. J. Morley with the airport at Knock. There were other Members who claimed it, but it was he who delivered it. That is there for him along with many other smaller capital projects. There were many things we did not see, however, including the interventions he made on behalf of people who faced difficult personal circumstances and the difference he made in the lives of many, quietly, efficiently, without pride and without prejudice over many years of public service. I said at the time of his passing that the Irish phrase "Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal" had never been more appropriate. A anam uasal; P.J. Morley was a noble man right to his core. That is what we remember here today. It is my pleasure and honour to be able to rise as his successor and, most importantly, as a friend, to put that on the record of the House.

I am also honoured to be able to rise to pay tribute to a fellow county person and Deputy who served here. P. J. Morley was also a member of the local authority on which I served. I express my sympathies to his wife, Mary, and his family on their loss. I acknowledge also the attendance of former Deputy John Carty, who succeeded him in the House, and former Deputy Sean Calleary. I did not know P. J. personally, but knew him from election posters, the newspapers and through the local Fine Gael gang who served on Mayo County Council, particularly my mentor, the former Senator and councillor Ernie Caffrey.

I have heard a great deal about P. J. from his colleagues who served with him on the local authority and the Western Health Board and in Leinster House. Truthfully, I have heard only good about him. He had a long and successful political career, beginning with election to the local authority in the early 1960s and, by all accounts, was an excellent chairman of both Mayo County Council and the Western Health Board. I understand he did not have the weakness to which many politicians are subject, as he never felt he had to speak unless he had something real to say. When he did speak, he demonstrated his sharp mind by getting straight to the point and being very decisive. He was a great supporter of Knock Airport. I have no doubt that when Monsignor James Horan came up with the idea of Knock Airport, he knew he needed political backing to realise the great dream and the success it has come to be. He had a great ally in P. J. Morley. I am glad to be associated with the fine tributes in the House to his life, his legacy and the service he gave to his county and his country throughout his political career. May his soul rest in peace.

I wish to be associated with the tributes paid this morning to the late P. J. Morley. I welcome and convey my sympathy to his family, Mary, Patrick, Enda, Brian and Cathy, and his colleagues, Sean Calleary and John Carty. I did not serve with P. J. on any of the bodies on which he served but was very aware, as someone from Mayo, of the work he did, which has been well articulated this morning, on the health board and on Knock Airport. I am not sure what the Taoiseach at the time, Charles Haughey, sanctioned, but I assure everyone that Knock Airport has progressed well from being a grass runway.

I got to know P. J. Morley in recent years after I came into the House, having met him at various functions and funerals. His few kind words to those of us who were new to the game demonstrated his great empathy with any public representative from the constituency. The best tribute I can pay to him is to note that he was a gentle man. I would like to be associated with all of the tributes that have been paid this morning and thank the Chair for the opportunity to express myself.

Members rose.