We will now hear expressions of sympathy on the very sad death of our former colleague, former Minister Mr. Patrick Power, otherwise known as Paddy. I am delighted to welcome here this afternoon to listen to the expressions of sympathy his daughter Mary, her husband Kieran O'Donnell and their children Kieran and Michelle, his son Gerry and his wife Teresa, his son Patsy, his wife Clare and their children Laura and Liam, his son Seán, another former colleague of ours, his partner Michelle and their children Robert, Shane and Lisa.
Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
Táimid bailithe anseo inniu chun comhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir de Paor as ucht bás Paddy. Is léir d'éinne a raibh aithne acu ar Paddy gur fear mór lách cneasta a bhí ann. Ceannaire agus Teachta Dála den chéad scoth a bhí ann. Múinteoir, cainteoir agus seanchaí den chéad scoth a bhí ann freisin. Ba iontach iad na hócáidí nuair a tháinig gach éinne le chéile i dteach na bPaorach. Bheadh Paddy ann ag insint scéalta do chách, agus baineadh gach éinne taitneamh as. Is fíor a rá go raibh sé ar a shuaimhneas i measc a mhuintire féin. Bhí muintir an phobail ar a shuaimhneas nuair a bhíodar le Paddy. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son muintir a dhúiche féin agus ar son mhuintir na tíre. Is léir go raibh sé an-sásta ag déanamh an obair sin. Bhain sé taitneamh as an méid oibre a bhí faoi chaibidil aige i rith na mblianta. Bhí sé gnóthach i gcónaí.
Today is a sad occasion of reflection for the family of Paddy Power who have gathered here on what would have been his 85th birthday. I hope, however, that what is no doubt tinged with a deep sense of loss for them is also a moment of pride in a lifetime's work and enduring legacy. Paddy's wife Kitty, his ten children JJ, Mary, Gerry, Brendan, Seán who is a former colleague of ours who entered the Dáil as a Deputy on the same day as me in 1989, Patsy, Tony, Enda, Rosario and Loreto, and his grandchildren and in-laws can reflect on a life committed to a greater purpose. I am delighted they have joined us today in the people's Chamber, where Paddy served Kildare and Ireland for 20 years, as we pay tribute to him.
A big and burly character, whose immense physical presence was matched with his oratorical power, Paddy developed a strong political niche for himself in some of the most turbulent political days the State has ever endured. Born in the broad windswept plains of the Curragh he settled in his beloved village of Caragh where he first arrived at a primary school teacher in the mid-1950s. Before he moved into national politics, Paddy established a formidable reputation as a community activist. Perched on a hill which towers over the village of Caragh, the local church built in 1960 is a testament to Paddy's work on the ground. A new primary school in the heart of the community, which formed his new teaching podium, was also a product of his work. In the lush large field behind the school his lifelong love of the Gaelic Athletic Association shone through as it was transformed into the nursery for the local Éire Óg hurling team he helped to found. In the classroom there was not much academic objectivity as a Fianna Fáil view shone through in any political discussions.
Across Kildare he forged a reputation as a storyteller par excellence, a singer and a raconteur. An old folks party from the Bog of Allen to the Wicklow foothills was not complete without his famed storytelling, a trait which made him popular within these walls also. Paddy was elected to Kildare County Council in 1967 and moved into national politics in 1969. His political life was characterised by his commitment to his constituency and to his community. He was always rooted in his community and was a very strong advocate for it.
Deputy Ó Fearghaíl stated that he would use three words beginning with the letter "F" to sum Paddy up - namely, fair, fierce and fervent. In that context, he was fierce in both his loyalty and his commitment to people and causes. The latter describes him very well indeed.
Paddy had a deep sense of patriotism. A Saturday evening at the Power household became a part-social, part-clinic and part-family night, with a carnival of friends, constituents and family gathered around a door that was always open. His tireless work for the people of Kildare is the binding thread of his life's labour.
Paddy Power left his own inimitable mark on the international stage. His brief tenure as Minister for Defence from March 1982 until the fall of the embattled Government of the day later that year was dominated by the international furore of the Falklands war and the fragility of Anglo-Irish relations at the time. Ireland was sitting on the UN Security Council in 1982, adding weight to its role in the diplomatic swirl surrounding the escalating conflict. Our original support for the British stance changed after the now notorious sinking of the General Belgrano, in part thanks to the strident views of Paddy Power. After the General Belgrano was sunk on 2 May 1982, Paddy stated at a Fianna Fáil meeting in Edenderry, County Offaly: "Obviously Britain themselves are very much the aggressors now." This comment was subsequently printed in the Irish Independent and gained international attention. He was the first member of a government in the Western world to publicly criticise the sinking. Apparently his name was chanted by crowds in the streets of Buenos Aires after that intervention against Britain, which probably remains the only time a Fianna Fáil comhairle Dáil ceantair meeting has had such an international impact.
The then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, summoned Paddy Power, then a Government Minister, to his office and demanded that he withdraw the comment, which Mr. Haughey deemed to be inflammatory. However, Paddy refused outright to do so. Over subsequent days, as national opinion turned against the sinking of the General Belgrano, the then Taoiseach shifted ground, backed up Paddy Power's stance and became more critical of the invasion of the Falklands. On 4 May 1982, the Irish Government called for an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to prepare a further resolution for an immediate ceasefire. At the UN Security Council, Ireland sought to give a mandate to the UN Secretary General to forge a diplomatic solution to the crisis, with Charles Haughey quoted in media reports at the time as saying this was part of Ireland’s role as a "peace-loving nation". Of course, this stance was not without its cost or critics. It generated significant controversy, but we will leave it to the historians to dwell upon that. Suffice to say that a man who was straight-talking and held to firm beliefs and convictions was not for moving. Paddy stuck to his guns and was subsequently vindicated by history.
Paddy Power's life's labours are now at a close. His final resting place is guarded by the old schoolhouse where he first taught. Around it is a transformed village and the county with which he was so in love. The political battles and arguments have faded away into memory. Instead, the legacy of men and women such as Paddy Power is their fundamental guiding commitment to the idea of public service and community. Those who answer the call to work for the greater good in public life can draw inspiration from the example of the noble endeavour of the people who have gone before, particularly the late Paddy Power. I trust that Kitty, the entire Power family and his wide circle of friends and supporters draw strength from the knowledge of that lasting inheritance in the face of their personal loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
On behalf of the Fine Gael Party and the Government, I wish to sympathise with the Fianna Fáil Party on the passing of the late Paddy Power. Today would have been Paddy's 85th birthday. As Deputy Martin indicated, he was first elected to the House in 1969. I was always happy to meet him in the environs of the Dáil because of his remarkable strength and sense of humour about life in general and about the activities that took place here and his part in them. I am not sure whether he acquired that from his family, as a result of his years as a primary school teacher or on the basis of his own observations of life. However, he was always on the point of bursting into laughter, regardless of how difficult a situation might have been. He served the Fianna Fáil Party on a number of occasions in the House when, as he would have said himself, things were "ropey enough".
Paddy served with a great degree of distinction and pride as Minister for Defence. He came from the Curragh in County Kildare and was very proud of his seal of office, of the fact that he had responsibility for the Defence Forces and of those who served in the Army, the Naval Service and the Air Corps. He also served as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry and Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism. I held the latter portfolio in later years under the title of Minister for Tourism and Trade. Paddy Power represented Leinster in the European Parliament and I know that he regaled those he came across there with stories of Ireland in a very Irish way. Those who met him recognised that he was a fount of wisdom, endeavour, realism and humour. Deputy Martin is correct: I am sure there were thousands of occasions when - at locations throughout the country, but particularly in his constituency - the melodic voice of Paddy Power was heard reciting stories. I am sure those present listened in some wonder.
Paddy's personality was extraordinary and, as the Ceann Comhairle is aware, he related to people at all levels. The latter led to his being regarded with a great sense of fondness by the people of Kildare. The Kildare Nationalist put it very well when it stated:
Paddy will always be remembered as a raconteur, someone who could weave a story and deliver a punchline perfectly. He enjoyed socialising and interacting with people and despite serving so many years in politics, never lost his very deep sense of connection with the local community in Caragh and across Kildare generally.
That is a very fair summation of somebody who crossed the landscape of Kildare on so many occasions and who became part of the fabric of the county and its community. His personality and passion were inherited by his son Seán, who later represented the same Dáil constituency and who upheld his father's legacy in the House. Seán is present with us this evening.
I am not quite sure that the comhairle Dáil ceantair meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party to which Deputy Martin referred was the only one that made international headlines. I could supply him with a long list of such meetings. On one occasion, Seán Lemass was quoted as stating that Fianna Fáil was a slightly constitutional party. In my part of the country, there have been some wonderful exponents of the art of Fianna Fáil-ism. Many of the activities that took place at comhairle Dáil ceantair meetings made national and international headlines.
The loan of Paddy Power to Ireland, the Dáil and Kildare by Kitty, his wife, and their family has been replicated on many occasions by others, but one has to be in the job in order to understand the impact politics can have on family life and relationships. If the spouses of those who serve here do not understand what public service is all about, then it is extremely difficult for them to do their job to the best of their ability. The vast majority of people here - myself included - understand how important the support of family is, and we are very grateful to Kitty Power for what she did for Ireland and Kildare by lending them her late husband, Paddy. Kitty did so out of both love and an understanding of what family means. I thank her and all of her ten fine children - J. J., Mary, Gerry, Brendan, Seán, Patsy, Tony, Enda, Rosario and Loreto. As Paddy would have said, they had three quarters of a Gaelic football team.
Paddy served his constituency, his county and his country with distinction.
On behalf of the Government, I extend my sympathy to the members of the family present on the passing of a benign spirit who, deep down, had a real sense of what public service is all about.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
On behalf of the Labour Party, I join Deputy Martin and the Taoiseach in expressing sympathy on the death of Paddy Power, a former Member of the Dáil who represented the people of County Kildare for more than 20 years. During his time in the House, he served with distinction as Minister for Fisheries and Forestry, Minister for Defence and Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism. In a long and distinguished career, he also served as a Member of the European Parliament and county councillor.
As I was elected to the House in the year Paddy Power retired from it, I did not have the opportunity of working with or getting to know him personally in the House. From speaking to my party colleagues in County Kildare, Deputies Stagg and Wall, I know, however, that he had enormous commitment to his county and showed great dedication to serving its people. This dedication was not confined to politics and was evident in his early days as a teacher in Caragh national school and after his retirement from the House when he remained active in his local community for as long as his health permitted.
As I stated, I did not know Paddy Power as a Member of the Oireachtas. However, I came across him as a local authority member attending various local authority events, including the General Council of County Councils, as it was then known, and other local government organisations. He was always very courteous and kind and I was always struck by the valued contributions he made to these bodies and the wealth of experience he brought to their deliberations.
I am also aware that Paddy Power was something of an expert master of ceremonies in Kildare, where his wit and great collection of stories and yarns made him the main attraction at many events throughout the county, somewhat to the envy of his political opponents. Perhaps he was also a scourge on them because many of them featured in the stories he told.
As Deputy Martin noted, Paddy Power also made a unique contribution to Anglo-Irish relations during the course of the Falklands war. While the former Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, was always given the credit afterwards for having taken the British to task over the sinking of the General Belgrano, the history books and any examination will show that the issue was first nailed by Paddy Power at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil comhairle ceantair in Edenderrry at which he described the sinking as it was. Within days, the then Government tabled a United Nations resolution and took a position on the sinking that has been vindicated with time. The issue certainly caused considerable controversy and probably will be the subject of debate for a long time.
While Paddy Power's former constituents and colleagues will undoubtedly miss his engaging presence, it is always at home that loss is most keenly felt. I extend the deepest sympathy of the Labour Party to his wife, Kitty, and children, J.J., Mary, Gerry, Brendan, Patsy, Tony, Enda, Rosario, Loreto and Sean, a former colleague in this House with whom I had the privilege of serving on many Oireachtas committees. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann, bean agus teaghlach Paddy Power ar fad a chaill fear céile, daid agus daideo. Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh fosta le Fianna Fáil, mar chaill siad fear mór. Ní raibh aithne agamsa ar Paddy Power agus is mór an trua é sin, go háirithe tar éis a léigh mé faoin bhfear uasal seo, go háirithe faoin méid a dúirt sé faoin General Belgrano. Tá mé cinnte go bhfuil Kitty, a bhean chéile agus a teaghlach uilig go han-bhródúil as obair agus saol Paddy Power.
I extend my condolences and the condolences of Sinn Féin to Paddy Power's family, his wife, Kitty, and children and grandchildren, and Fianna Fáil, which has lost an industrious member who had a long career in politics and contributed significantly to the party. The real loss, however, is to Paddy Power's family and I am sure his children and mother miss him every day.
As we heard, Paddy Power was a former national school teacher who served on Kildare County Council and was elected to the House in 1969. He served the Kildare constituency diligently for 20 years, before representing us in the European Parliament in the late 1970s.
While I never met Paddy Power, it is clear from those who did and from what I have read about him, particularly on his contribution following the sinking of the General Belgrano and the contribution he made as a Teachta Dála, Minister and Member of the European Parliament, that he was very well thought of and highly respected. To his wife Kitty especially and to all his children and grandchildren, I express our deepest condolences. I would like to think it is of some small consolation to them that they can take comfort in the knowledge that he made so many positive contributions during his life to the well-being of the people of Kildare and the State and to the welfare of the people of the island of Ireland. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Deputy Catherine Murphy, who will speak on behalf of the Technical Group, is unfortunately absent as she is taking part in a radio programme. I will call her when she returns.
Having had the pleasure of serving alongside the late Paddy Power for a long time on Kildare County Council and in this House, I came to respect him as a great public representative and a decent and honest man. In football and hurling parlance, he would be regarded as a hard hitter who did not take prisoners readily or expect any mercy in return. He and I had some great jousts over the years and from time to time we entertained each other and those who were looking on.
Paddy Power was a politician whose sole purpose in life was to work on behalf the people. He respectfully listened to their views, came to a conclusion and represented them in the way he thought was right. While he did not always agree with them, he certainly represented them. He was a great headline for the rest of us and those of us who were young at the time learned a great deal from him, as Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl will agree. He was able to impress on those who opposed him the need to keep in mind at all times the job they were elected to do, namely, to represent the public and maintain a high level of public interest and public spiritedness.
Paddy Power was a great race goer, fiercely loyal GAA supporter and lover of all sport. He was also a great raconteur who told great stories, even against himself. He famously told one about a particular occasion when he received a hostile reception at a particular house while canvassing. Unusually for him, he retreated from the house and as he prepared to open the gate of the next house, the lady called after him that it was vacant, to which he responded, "I am not surprised."
Paddy Power was a great headline for the rest of us in the sense that he worked hard. He was not a great man for soundbites or public relations; one saw what one got. He worked extremely hard, however, and was extremely honest. All of us were impressed by the dedication and honesty he showed in representing his constituents.
He gave new meaning to the word "soundbite". If he did not like the sound of the questioner, you got the answer quickly and it was more of a bite, but his bark was always worse than his bite. I was greatly honoured to have the privilege to serve alongside him. He did a great deal of work for the people of Kildare, and he will be remembered for that. The fact that there was such a huge crowd at his funeral service is a great indication of the fondness in which he was held by the people of the county of Kildare.
I am delighted to see Kitty and the family here. Kitty is a decent, honest woman who was recognised as the power behind the throne. Along with him, she reared a fine family of which they both were proud, and the family was equally proud of them. It was great to be around and to have the experience of working with him. I hope the lessons that he gave us will live with us long, long afterwards.
I could not finish without making this one point. When we were younger, we used to try to rev his engine at local authority meetings. There was the giveaway signal, when he was beginning to respond, when he tossed the curls in the front of his hair with the back of his hand. That was always a signal, we had determined, that we were beginning to wind him up, and he also recognised after a time that we were winding him up. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
I join with my party leader, the Taoiseach and other Members in expressing heartfelt sympathy to Seán and to the members of the Power family, and, of course, to Kitty. The people of Kildare, when they elected the late Paddy Power, got two for the price of one because both of them gave loyal and dedicated service. We all realise that Kitty was the power behind the throne. She was, in many respects, a guiding light within the family.
My party leader stated that I used three words to describe Paddy: fair, fierce and fervent. They are fairly accurate descriptions. I never knew him to be anything other than fair in his dealings with the public or with other public representatives, and I had the privilege of working with him from the late 1970s onwards. He was fiercely loyal. He was loyal to his family, he was loyal to the people of Kildare and to the country, and he was loyal to his political party, and he never wavered in that loyalty. He was also fervent. One thing one would have to say about the late Paddy Power was that he was never half-hearted. He was never a milk-and-water type of individual. If he supported a case or a cause, by God did he support it entirely. On the many occasions on which I attended meetings with him, I have fond recollections of the table being banged and of Paddy insisting that whatever particular course of action was to be taken should be taken.
I considered it a great privilege to know him and to work with him. I believe I learned a great deal from him and from his exemplary commitment to public service that he demonstrated at every opportunity. He was somebody whom, throughout my life, both as a resident of Kildare and as a public representative, I admired and looked up to. For many who have entered public life in County Kildare, his example is one that we can look to, follow and hope to emulate. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
In sympathising with the Power family and with Fianna Fáil, I would be probably right in saying that, apart from the Power family themselves, I knew the late Paddy Power earlier than anyone else here. I first met him in Coffey's field, outside of Caragh, at the under-14 football trials in 1959. At that time, he and a Fr. Lawlor from Robertstown looked after the team. He did a good job of it at that stage and we went on and won the Leinster final in Graiguecullen in Carlow.
Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl has mentioned that Paddy could be described as fair, fierce and fervent. I probably met the three of them two years later when Éire Óg played St. Dermot's in the junior hurling final on the windswept fields of the Curragh and Paddy was playing full forward. As a result of that match, there was a famous heading in the local newspaper, "A Town of Angry Men". Unfortunately, it was Castledermot that was the town of angry men. Indeed, Paddy went on to write a famous poem about that particular match, A Town of Angry Men, and he often recited it to me in later years.
As everyone has said here about Kitty and Paddy, they were a famous couple. My party leader, Deputy Gilmore, was correct about the number of conferences and seminars they went to, and their activity gave hope and direction to so many who attended those. Paddy, unfortunately, was poor of hearing in latter years, yet he was up at the front and he knew what was going on. He knew also the advice to give to young pretenders about political life. That advice was given free of charge. It did not matter of which party the person was a member; he was still willing to do that.
When he became Minister for Defence, right across political lines in Kildare there was a fierce sense of pride that at long last this man who had given his all, in education, in community activity and in political life, had gained the ultimate reward for all that effort. Everyone who met him was delighted in that regard.
I attended a function in the Keadeen Hotel when the Power family celebrated 40 years of involvement in public life - 20 years in the case of Paddy, God rest him, and 20 years in the case of Seán. Surely that must be a record that will be hard to beat, if ever matched, in this House. On behalf of the Labour Party in south Kildare, I offer my deepest sympathy to the Power family. I wish Kitty well. All the family have given so much. Irrespective of whether it was in political life or community life, the Power family has always been to the fore. That was something they learned from Paddy through his efforts. Indeed, I still think Deputy Ó Fearghaíl might have been right about the "fair" part of it but, certainly, I saw fierce and fervent in their full light the day he was wielding that hurley upon the Curragh.
I join with others in paying tribute to the late Paddy Power.
Paddy was more my sparring partner than my friend in local politics in Kildare. Indeed, I knew him best at local government level, where Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl used sit beside him. Paddy was a little hard of hearing, even at that time, and I would interrupt him while he was speaking. He would be saying, "What did he say? What did he say?", and Seán would say, "Don't mind him. Don't mind him." Eventually, I would get him going. I got his dander up on many an occasion.
Paddy made a very positive contribution, particularly right across local government - that is where I knew him - in Kildare and in the VEC, of which he was chairman for many years. He developed a VEC scheme in Kildare that is second to none in the country. He was one of the drivers of that.
Probably, we both mellowed in our relationship as the years went on. I remember that when I was a junior Minister in the government with Fianna Fáil and I was at a local authority meeting talking to councillors about housing, he said at that public meeting that I had greatly improved since I had become associated with Fianna Fáil.
There you are now.
From that time on, we were quite friendly.
I had great respect for Paddy Power and for the work he did. I join with others in offering my sympathy to Kitty and her clan, who are here and elsewhere.
It is fitting that we are here today on the late Paddy Power's 85th birthday to remember a man with a remarkable legacy in this House, in the local authority and in public life in general. My dealings with Paddy were in the autumn of his life when he had retired from public life, but he was still a great character to talk to and to learn from.
My stepfather remarked to me early on when I got involved in politics that he remembered Paddy Power cycling past the house where my stepfather lived on his way to his first job, which was a teaching job in Grangecon in County Wicklow. For anybody who knows the geography of that area, it is a long cycle from the Curragh to Grangecon, and I mentioned that to Paddy at the time.
I heard that if Paddy was attending a meeting in Athy, perhaps on Woodstock Street or the Stradbally Road, he would park at the Grove Cinema at the opposite end of the town and give himself plenty of time to walk to the meeting to make sure he met as many people as possible along the way. That is a lesson for all of us in politics.
For somebody from an inland county like Kildare to be Minister with responsibility for fisheries, it does not cause too many problems with constituents, but for someone born and raised on the Curragh, there can be no greater honour than becoming Minister for Defence. I know it was a huge honour for Paddy, his family and the Fianna Fáil Party in general and it was a position he occupied with distinction. He also showed himself to be good at multi-tasking in serving as an MEP between 1977 and 1979.
Paddy had a long legacy in politics, but, with a wife and family of ten, he also had a long legacy outside it. Every family makes sacrifices when the father or husband is a Member of the Dáil, a Minister and a public representative. Days like today, however, prove that the sacrifices such families make are more than rewarded by the recognition of great public service such as that Paddy provided for the people of County Kildare. On behalf of Fine Gael and the people of Kildare South, I offer my sincere sympathy to the Power family and Fianna Fáil.
I, too, express my sympathy to the Power family. I first came across Paddy Power as a wee nipper in 1974 when my mother stood for election to the local council. He was a big man, not only physically but also as a presence in the county. I will always remember him as a family man. It reflects well on Kitty and Paddy that their family have turned out so well. They reared a tremendous family, each of whom is a decent person. We in County Kildare like decent and honest people. It is interesting to see that a family member from the third generation is trying to emulate what the father started out to do. I wish him the best in the future in politics, although not too much luck.
I got to know the members of the younger generation by playing football against them and meeting them in business. When my mother passed away and I was co-opted onto the council, the first person to take me under his wing to offer advice was Paddy Power. He reminded me that we had been elected by the people - although I was co-opted - and that our duty was to the people rather than the officials of Kildare County Council. I recall that when he stood up and was in flow, the officials became visibly nervous. He was the epitomy of what a local and national politician should be. We were on the board of directors of Kildare County Council and it was our duty to keep account of the officials. In fairness to Paddy, he taught me how I should treat officials. They were the servants of the people whom we were representing.
I had numerous opportunities to listen to Paddy as he regaled his audience. He always had Kitty by his side to give him a dig with her elbow if he got stuck in a story. There was never a shortage of good stories and he was always great company, whether he was telling a yarn or singing a song. On behalf of my own family who knew the Powers for many years, I offer my deepest sympathy. It was a big loss to County Kildare on the day Paddy passed away.
I offer my sincere sympathy to the Power family. I know some of the family members well because I served with Paddy Power and his sons Seán and J. J. on Kildare County Council at various times since 1991. Paddy was elected in 1969 and served as a Deputy and a Minister. He had a lifetime of political experience behind him before I was elected to the council in 1991. Essentially, he was as an adversary.
Paddy was a very proud Kildare man and those of us who were blow-ins to the county got to know this quite quickly. As others noted, he was a devoted family man and we got to know not only him but also his wife, Kitty, because she accompanied him to many events. He was hugely proud of his large family. He was a terrific story teller and a social magnet because he would always be in the middle of a group telling his tales. One dared not to interrupt him because his story telling was always intense. The stories usually ended with the group erupting in laughter. I had the pleasure of being in a few of those huddles to hear his yarns. Some of his sons are lucky enough to inherit these traits.
It is often said politicians cut their political teeth at local level. Paddy was the one who ensured we cut our teeth as Opposition members. I was elected to the council after being involved in an acrimonious campaign on service charges during the 1980s and, as such, I arrived complete with cloven hooves. On my very first day he told me I need not think I was coming in to sweep out the cobwebs. He was putting down a marker straightaway. He was also fiercely loyal in whatever he was involved in. When he discovered by accident that some of my ancestors had been in Fianna Fáil, the ice melted and I was not seen in as bad a light as previously. Over time we made our peace, but I remember the great rows between him and Deputy Emmet Stagg which took up the first 30 minutes of every council meeting. They often resulted in a piece of poetry being devised.
The last time I met him was in Punchestown a few years ago. We had a great chat and it was nice to meet him as a friend. Again, I sympathise with his large family. I know he was proud of them and I am certain that they, in turn, were proud of the role he had played in the Parliament, for the State and County Kildare.