Ba mhaith liom i dtús báire mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh arís le bean Peter Mathews, Susan, agus lena chlann as ucht a bháis. Duine cneasta, lách agus macánta ab ea Peter. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach, Domhnach is dálach, ní hamháin ar son mhuintir a Dháilcheantar féin ach freisin ar son mhuintir na tíre seo go forleathan. Fear cumasach intleachtachúil ab ea é. Ó thaobh cúrsaí eacnamaíochta de, agus go háirithe maidir le fadhbanna na mbanc, bhí sé deacair é a shárú.
We were all deeply saddened to learn of the death of Peter Mathews following his battle with cancer. He was a considerate and compassionate gentleman and a very diligent worker. He was a man of great integrity and sincerity. He showed unfailing courtesy in everything he did. I often thought that Vincent Browne owed him a great debt. Between 2008 and 2010, before Peter came into politics, he was a regular guest on "Tonight with Vincent Browne". He became very well known due to his regular media appearances, during which he provided detailed and insightful analysis on economic and financial issues. He was very well respected in his field. He continued to play an analytical role during his time in politics.
Peter Mathews was fearless. He did not really worry what anybody thought of what he said or of his views. Unlike many politicians, he did not try to calculate how his views would be interpreted by his constituents or others. He had the intellectual self-confidence and capacity to take on anybody, even in the German Parliament or among the intelligentsia of the European elite. He had confidence in his intellectual capacity to argue the point and make the case.
When Peter was elected to the Dáil on his first attempt in 2011, his then party, Fine Gael, took three seats in the Dublin South constituency. I think it was the first time that had happened in a general election since 1982. He was clearly determined to make his mark on Irish politics. While he was honoured to represent the people of his constituency, he saw himself as a national representative at a time of crisis. He wanted to bring his abilities and insights to bear on the national scene.
We all know that for a time, Peter was quite the competitor during Taoiseach's Questions. There is no doubt that if the card system which now exists had been in place during his period as a Deputy, he would have been in early to secure a card and get his say. Peter's enthusiasm to participate was a source of challenge to your predecessor, a Cheann Chomhairle. It was a challenge to accommodate him from time to time. Indeed, there may have been a similar pattern at meetings of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party.
Peter Mathews was a principled man who was not afraid to stand up for what he believed in. It is interesting to note that he was ahead of his time on conscience issues. It is now becoming more acceptable to give people the freedom to pursue their personal positions, in accordance with their informed consciences, on issues like the termination of pregnancy. As the Taoiseach has outlined, that is a legacy of Peter's contribution to this House.
Peter was very sociable. Even though he was independent-minded, people enjoyed meeting him. He would occasionally visit the Fianna Fáil offices on the fourth floor. One Friday morning in 2014 - Deputies will be aware that there are very few parliamentarians around on a Friday morning - Peter engaged one of our researchers in a lengthy debate and discussion across a miasma of issues. He had great time for everybody in the House, irrespective of his or her status. I noticed his politeness and good manners to everyone in here, regardless of his or her position. He charmed the staff in the canteen, for example. He will be remembered as a very pleasant and kind man.
Unfortunately, Peter was sadly struck by illness just before the 2016 general election. His new independent status and the revision of the constituency boundaries in south Dublin would have made it a challenging election for him in any event. It was a real test of his mettle, courage and resilience to take to the hustings when he was afflicted by a serious condition. He met and easily passed that test. He was not successful in the election itself, given the challenges I have outlined. He was a unique politician who left his mark on Dáil Éireann and across the nation over his five-year term in this House.
Everyone in here shares fond memories of Peter. We experienced his great intellect, his great analysis and his great commitment to Ireland. I extend again my deepest sympathies to Peter's wife, Susan; to their four children, Maria, James, John and David; and to their extended family and friends. I have absolutely no doubt they will remember their late husband and father with great pride and affection.