As Taoiseach and as leader of Fine Gael, I wish to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Monica Barnes, a woman I met many times and greatly admired for her courage, integrity and determination. In a fitting description, Monica was once described as the woman who saved the conscience of Fine Gael. In her championing of women's rights and in the care and compassion she showed for people in difficult situations, she inspired many people around the country. She was a particular inspiration for young women and young men in my party and beyond.
When Monica was first elected to Dáil Éireann in November 1982 she was one of only 14 women Deputies, and at the time that was a record number. Her courageous example helped to change that for the better, and encouraged many others to enter politics. Over the following 15 years, Monica served the people of Dún Laoghaire with great ability, and spoke for people across the country who had been marginalised and excluded. At a time when it was easier to stay silent, she always spoke her mind and was a fearless campaigner for change. I think a profile in The Irish Times once captured her best with a headline that read "Propelled by principle". Monica's principles helped to propel this country to a better place. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam dílis.