If I may indulge for a moment with the Ceann Comhairle's permission, I wish to mention Andy Fitzgerald who is present here and who retires from the staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas tomorrow. Andy Fitzgerald has been a part of the environs of the House for 28 years and in that time he not only has been a professional and dedicated member of the team here but also one of the most cheerful at all times. No matter what the issue of the day or how difficult the debate had been, he always has a cheerful greeting as Members go about their business in the House. He was a tonic indeed when a tonic often was needed. He served here, with the Office of Public Works and with Teagasc over 40 years of public service. Indeed, his dad, Edward, served here from 1948 to 1981 and to continue the Fitzgerald family service, his nephew Darren joined the public service last year. Andy always has been a busy person and I wish him, Linda his wife and his four sons every happiness in the future. He has given the State 40 years of loyal and dedicated service of which he can be very proud. A Cheann Comhairle, I am sure I can speak for everybody in saying "thank you Andy and good luck for the future".
Tributes on the Retirement of Member of Staff
On a personal level and on behalf of my party, I also wish Andy well on his retirement and thank him for his courtesy and warmth down through the years. There always is a smile on his face and I can understand the Taoiseach's need for a tonic now and again. He probably needs one this morning as well given the circumstances. However, it is a matter of immense pride to Andy that there is such a continued family connection to the House from his father to his nephew, who is coming in. Given the name Fitzgerald, it is entirely appropriate that Andy would be in a House like this, given the Fitzgerald connection from the very outset with Leinster House. I wish Andy a healthy retirement and thank him for his courtesy and warmth down through the years.
On my own behalf and on behalf of Sinn Féin, I wish in the first instance to congratulate Andy for such an outstanding record of public service, as well as for his courtesy and decency to everybody who graces this House. I wish him well in what I am sure will be an interesting and active phase of retirement. I wish him a happy Christmas and best regards to his family. Comhghairdeas leis.
Andy was well established here by the time I, who now am a long server, arrived in the place. When he told me during the week that he was of the age at which he would retire, I could not believe him because he is looking so well, even after 40 years of service to the public in various ways. I always have known him as someone who was very proud of the position he held in the House and he filled that role with great distinction and courtesy, as well as strictness where it was required. Like others, I wish Andy and his family a happy, long and active retirement, as I am sure it will be. I wish him a good season as well.
As Ceann Comhairle, I wish to join with other speakers in wishing Andy many years of happiness and good health, which is the important thing. I thank him for his service on behalf of all the Members of the House. Andy is a perfect example of what is a good, true public servant and I thank him again.