Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy

In accordance with the order of the Dáil yesterday, we will now hear expressions of sympathy on the deaths of former Fianna Fáil Members, Seán Ardagh, former Deputy for Dublin South-Central, and Seán Calleary, former Deputy for Mayo East. We are joined for this commemoration by Mrs. Doris Calleary and Mrs. Máire Ardagh and their families: John, Conall, Dara and Síofra Calleary, daughters-in-law Trish and Siobhan, son-in-law John, grandchildren Laura, David and Anna, and family friends; and the Ardagh family are represented by Charlie and Rory Ardagh, Seán's sons, and their wives Catherine and Deirdre, and by Darragh McShea, Senator Catherine Ardagh's husband, and four grandchildren, Charlotte, Jane, Jamie and Arabella.

The two Seáns were people it was an absolute privilege to have known. They were honourable men, with very different personalities, but they served their people here with dignity and integrity. Neither of them undervalued the honour bestowed on them by their constituents. Seán Calleary did his utmost for the people of his beloved Mayo and the country, and Seán Ardagh did his utmost for the people of Dublin South-Central and Ireland. Knowing both Seáns as well as I did, I know how thrilled they would be that the next Calleary and Ardagh generation have taken the political baton and continue to work for the people they represent. To our colleagues, Catherine and Dara, and the wider Ardagh and Calleary families, I renew my condolences to them on their sad loss. Their fathers served their party, their Parliament and their country with absolute distinction and their families should be very proud of that work. We, their Oireachtas colleagues, salute it here in this Chamber today.

Ar dtús báire, ar mo shon féin agus ar son Fhianna Fáil, déanaim comhbhrón le muintir Sheán Ardagh agus lena chlann uilig. B'fhear stuama, cneasta, gníomhach agus críochnúil é. Duine ciallmhar agus polaiteoir den scoth a bhí ann. Bhí sé dílis dá mhuintir féin agus d'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir a dhúiche féin. Bhí sé ar a shuaimhneas agus an-éifeachtach ar fad sa Pharlaimint, go háirithe i gcoistí na Dála, an Coiste Chuntais Phoiblí agus an Coiste um Dhlí agus Cheart agus Comhionannas ach go háirithe.

Seán Ardagh was one of the great gentlemen of Irish politics and one of the kindest people one could meet. I always appreciated his advice on a personal level but also his continual good nature. He was immensely hard working, courteous and committed. He was also enormously popular with his colleagues and, of course, his constituents. There is no greater testament to that popularity than the fact that every time he contested an election, he won that election. His first campaign was in 1985 when he ran in the local elections. He had to share the ticket on that occasion, I believe, with no less a celebrity than Sonny Knowles, who has recently passed away, and we extend our sympathies to his family also. Seán was the highest polling of the four Fianna Fáil candidates. He ran for Dáil Éireann on three occasions. Not only did he win every time but he also increased his vote on each occasion. At his final outing in 2007, he topped the poll and was elected on the first count.

He was a very fine and brilliant parliamentarian in the true sense of that word. In particular, he was a very eminent and solid chairperson of a number of Oireachtas committees. As a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, he established himself very firmly during the DIRT hearings in the late 1990s. Obviously, he was greatly aided by his own accountancy background in this endeavour but, for a first-time Deputy, he quickly acquired an authoritative reputation that would have been more in keeping with a more experienced Member of the House. After his re-election in 2002 and 2007, he chaired the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, which was always one of the busiest. Again, he carried out the role with aplomb. He really was a natural. He was rarely adversarial. He never prejudged an issue and was always open in his approach and dealings, and he maintained that during his tenure as Chair of the Committee on the Constitution during the 30th Dáil.

I have no doubt his equable temperament on political matters gave him great strength when he faced serious health issues during his time in the House. He was first diagnosed with cancer in his first term. He got past it that time only for it to re-occur again in 2010, when he was absent from the Dáil because of illness for a period of the year. He tackled his diagnosis with great dignity and inner strength and, of course, with the help of his close family. Before Seán passed away in 2016, he happily and proudly saw his daughter Catherine elected to Seanad Éireann and he took great pride in her achievement. He was a keen supporter of her campaigns and may well have enjoyed them more than his own. Indeed, when we knock on doors, as I do with Catherine from time to time in that constituency, Seán's name is always mentioned with the highest of esteem and affection.

One constant in his life throughout was Máire and for 45 years they were together. They were best friends, hand in glove, and she too was elected to public office. They were both very committed to public service and to politics. It is often a cliché at times like this but I believe Seán Ardagh was one of the true gentlemen of Irish politics. His decency, integrity and good nature were transparent at all times, qualities that are invaluable in political life. He always had good advice for people and he led by example. Seán did not seek the headlines but what he said mattered. Any time he spoke, he was listened to as people respected him greatly. If he did not have anything good to say about people, he did not say anything.

I again extend my deepest sympathies to all of Seán's family - his wife Máire, sons Rory and Charlie and, of course, Catherine. He is still very fondly remembered and sadly missed.

Aire, Teachta agus polaiteoir den scoth ab ea Seán Calleary. Bhí cúrsaí polaitíochta ina chlann ó thosach. Thuig sé tábhacht sheirbhís phoiblí. D'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir a dhúiche féin. Bhí suim faoi leith aige i gcúrsaí spóirt. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil sé seo ar eolas ag daoine, ach d'imir sé peil, sacar agus rugbaí. Peileadóir den scoth a bhí ann. Mar Aire dhein sé an-chuid, go háirithe nuair a bhí sé sa Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha i gceannas ar an rannóg le haghaidh tíortha atá fós ag forbairt san Afraic. Sheas sé go doimhin lena phrionsabail i gcónaí.

One of Ireland's greatest public servants and gentlemen, Seán Calleary served Mayo as a Deputy for 19 years, eight of these as a Government Minister. He discharged his duties with distinction and honour in the 1980s and early 1990s as Minister of State in the Departments of Labour, Public Service, Industry and Commerce and then Foreign Affairs. Politics was in the blood, of course. His father, Phelim, won a by-election when Seán was eight months old. However, he first came to prominence through a very ecumenical sporting ability. He played junior football with Mayo and he lined out for University College Galway and won the Sigerson Cup in 1955. However, he did not let it rest there.

In the same year he lined out for UCG in soccer and won the Collingwood Cup, the first ever victory for UCG and stopped University College Dublin, UCD, from winning an eighth in a row. He had a deep and lifelong love for rugby and his great performances for Galwegians helped the club to achieve a regional dominance. This was at a time when the Gaelic Athletic Association, GAA, did not allow members to play or even attend what were termed "foreign games". Seán, a member of the Mayo junior team, simply adopted the pseudonym, J. J. Kelly, also known as Jacko. As his celebrity as a player grew, a journalist said "I don't know if you have seen that Jacko Kelly but if you're half the player he is, you'll be very good." Following his playing career he performed leadership roles in Mayo GAA as selector and Connacht Rugby as president of the Connacht branch of the Irish Rugby and Football Union, IRFU. He was particularly pleased to be inducted into the Mayo sports star hall of fame in 2014.

His political career began with election in 1967 to the county council. This started an uninterrupted series of electoral successes, which stretched over the next 22 years, and he spent 19 years as a Member of the Dáil. He quickly made a name for himself in Leinster House as a decent and considerate man who drew great strength from the community he served. It was in his five years as Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs that he made his biggest impact. His primary responsibility was overseas development aid but he played a much wider role and often stood in for his senior Minister, Brian Lenihan Snr, at major international meetings as well as in the Dáil. He presented the shamrock to the first President Bush standing in for the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, and for Brian Lenihan. He was the first Mayo man to present the shamrock in the White House through circumstance.

Ireland's strong international standing for its overseas development work is because of people like Seán Calleary who brought his engineering background to bear on the development of water solutions for many of the people in Africa. He may not have had the resources available to him then that subsequent economic growth provided but he demonstrated leadership and determination in policies that have benefitted millions of the world's poorest people. His greatest pride, of course, was in his family and his wife, Doris. At his funeral in Mayo last June, his son Dara told us he was "privileged to have a ringside seat at one of the world's greatest love stories, Seán and Doris. They were devoted to each other." He was proud of all his children's achievements and took great pride in Dara being elected to serve the people of Mayo in Dáil Éireann in 2007. He was ever available to give my good self advice on the fortunes of the party from 2011 on and the re-emergence and renewal of the party. His advice was always strongly given and with effect. On behalf of the party and on my own behalf, I extend our sympathies to his wife, Doris, to Dara, Conall, John, and his daughter Síofra. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanameacha dílse.

I am grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Ardagh, a distinguished former Member of this House. Seán was loved by all sides in this Chamber, and was respected by all and could work with all. I was fortunate to serve with him on the Joint Committee for Economic Regulatory Affairs during my first term in the Dáil and benefitted a lot from his kindness and advice. I also saw close up his forensic ability to get to the heart of an issue, his sound judgment and his determination to serve the public good.

One obituary suggested that Seán Ardagh might have gone further in politics only for the fact that he had not a bad word to say about anyone, including his political opponents. I hope that is not true because I believe we need more people like Seán Ardagh to make our politics work better. On the Committee on Public Accounts, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, and as a Deputy and a councillor, he did the State considerable service. Those who knew him will remember him above all as a gentleman and as an astute politician, someone who served the people of Dublin South Central with distinction and who never neglected his family. I know how proud he was that his daughter, Catherine, was elected to the Seanad shortly before his death and I suspect it will not be too long before she takes up his former seat in this House. On behalf of the Fine Gael party, I offer my deepest condolences to his widow, Máire, his sons, Rory and Charlie, his daughter, Catherine, his grandchildren, extended family and colleagues in the Fianna Fáil party.

I also welcome this opportunity to pay tribute to Seán Calleary as someone who epitomised the spirit of public service at home and abroad and who was a true Irish patriot. Seán Calleary was a firm believer in something Seán Lemass once said: "Irish people are citizens of the world as well as Ireland". Over the course of a distinguished career in politics, he served as a Minister of State in several Departments. He oversaw our overseas development aid programme and in many ways got that going. He also worked to combat famine in Ethiopia in the 1980s. He defended the Irish in Britain who faced discrimination, supported German reunification and was Ireland's lead negotiator on the Lomé Convention, with African Caribbean and Pacific countries, and we can still see the value of that work today. At home he championed the building of Ireland West Airport at Knock and the restoration of the Céide Fields when others were sceptical about both projects. In his work on local councils, as mayor of Ballina, as a Deputy and as a Minister of State, Seán Calleary worked to make his county and country much better places.

Many people have said he was a gentleman who never lost his patience with people, a rare ability among politicians, but he loved politics and was a wise counsel for many Governments and Fianna Fáil leaders. He was also, as Deputy Micheál Martin said, an accomplished sportsman, excelling at Gaelic football, hurling soccer and rugby, although I believe he sometimes had to play rugby under an alias because of the ban and I glad that today I have finally learned what that alias was.

Very few families can say they have had three generations who have served the public with honour and distinction. The Callearys can be proud of their contribution to Irish political life, first through Phelim Calleary, who served the people of Mayo in this House for many years, then through Seán and now through Deputy Dara Calleary. I know how justifiably proud Seán's children were of his achievements, and I know he was immensely proud of them. I offer my condolences to Seán's wife, Doris, his daughter, Síofra, his sons, John, Conall and Dara, and to all his grandchildren and relatives. I also extend my condolences to Deputy Martin and the Fianna Fáil party on this loss. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanameacha uaisle.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Sinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde an iar-Theachta Seán Ardagh, a fuair bás i mí na Bealtaine 2016. On my own behalf and that of Sinn Féin, I wish to express sincere and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of former Deputy, Seán Ardagh, who passed away in May 2016. Seán, as we have heard had a lengthy and distinguished career in politics at local and national level, serving as a member of Dublin County Council for 14 years, a member of Dublin City Council and in this House for three terms. His daughter, Catherine, whom we acknowledge today, is also a former Dublin City councillor and a Member of the Seanad. I have absolutely no doubt that her father was beyond proud when she assumed office in the Seanad.

I join with everyone in extending sympathy and condolences to Catherine, and to all of Seán's loved ones, particularly his wife, Máire, his sons, Rory and Charlie, all his grandchildren, relatives and friends and his colleagues in Fianna Fáil. He made his mark and made a difference. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Ba mhaith liom freisin comhbhrón a dhéanamh ar mo shon féin agus ar son Sinn Féin le clann agus cairde an iar-Theachta Seán Calleary, a fuair bás i mí an Mheithimh i mbliana. On my behalf and that of my party, Sinn Féin, I equally extend sincere condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of former Deputy, Seán Calleary, who passed away last June. I did not know Seán but he had a lengthy and distinguished career in this place and, as we have discovered, a formidable sporting career as well.

Seán Calleary served in the House from 1973 to 1992, representing the fine people of Mayo as a Teachta Dála, like his father Phelim before him, and his son, our colleague, Deputy Dara Calleary. It is a formidable political family tree and I know Deputy Calleary takes enormous pride in the record and standing of his father. I have no doubt that Seán was equally proud of Dara. During his time in the House, Seán Calleary served in three junior ministerial positions in the Departments of Labour and Public Service, Industry and Commerce and Foreign Affairs. I join colleagues in extending sympathy and condolences to Seán's wife Doris, his children, John, Conall, Dara and Síofra, his grandchildren, relatives, friends and colleagues in Fianna Fáil. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I had the privilege of serving with both Seán Ardagh and Seán Calleary. The Ceann Comhairle rightly spoke of the two as being honourable men. There are many parliaments in which that title is given to members as a matter of course. In the case of Seán Ardagh and Seán Calleary, it was completely merited and earned. They understood fully and embraced and accepted the privilege it is to serve one's community in our national Parliament. They worked to advance not only their own constituents' interests but to contribute to the national good. Both men could be described as rocks of sense. The views they expressed were always listened to carefully by other Members. At committees and during debates in the House, one listens to the views expressed by certain individuals in order to test one's own views. Very often, the views expressed by Seán Calleary and Seán Ardagh were so thoughtful, anchored in logic and obviously carefully considered that they altered the views of others, including even those who came here with fixed positions.

Seán Calleary and Seán Ardagh represented the highest standards expected of Members of the House. Seán Calleary had a distinguished ministerial career and graced several portfolios with discernment and ability. I have always had an interest in overseas development aid and I helped to establish the Parliamentarians for Africa group. Seán Calleary was a pathfinder in that area. When Ireland was poor, or certainly much poorer than it is now, he built awareness of our responsibilities to developing parts of the planet. That will be a very important and long-lasting legacy memorial of his. His sporting achievements have been referred to by a number of speakers. Deputy Micheál Martin referred to Sean's talent in this regard. One can well imagine his delight had he been present at the Aviva Stadium two weekends ago to see Ireland beat the All Blacks, which achievement few of his generation of rugby players could have envisaged.

The House is the poorer for the loss of people of the calibre and ability of Seán Ardagh and Seán Calleary. On my own behalf and on behalf of the Labour Party, I express sincere sympathy but also congratulations to the families of Seán Ardagh and Seán Calleary and the broad band of friends and supporters each of them had and, indeed, to their political family in Fianna Fáil.

I join the Ceann Comhairle and group leaders in welcoming both families. I knew Seán Ardagh and I express my sympathy to his wife, Máire, his daughter, Senator Catherine Ardagh, and other family members. They know themselves the contribution he made. When I was a member of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, I heard his wise counsel at many meetings and I noted his sensible approach to most issues. He did a great deal of work on different committees. On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to Seán Ardagh. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I express my condolences also to the family of Seán Calleary, particularly his wife, Doris, and his son, Deputy Dara Calleary, who is the third generation of his family in the House. If I am listening right, I think the next generation is represented among the daoine óga in the Gallery. I compliment Seán Calleary on the work he did in difficult times in Ireland and as a champion for overseas aid. He had the honour to be in the White House on that famous occasion to present the shamrock and he served in and represented many Departments over a number of years. I happened to be in Mayo last Friday night in a public house which belongs to a former Member or his family and I heard in what high esteem Deputy Calleary and his late father and grandfather are held. They have no worries for the future either. On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to Seán Calleary. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

On behalf of my group, Independents 4 Change, I also wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy for Seán Calleary and Seán Ardagh. I thank their families for the tremendous contributions they made to the House and our country over many years. I served with former Deputy Ardagh in three Dáileanna and noted his distinguished contribution as a member of the Committee of Public Accounts - I was also a member - and the Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence. He brought his forensic skills as an accountant to bear on his work, particularly as part of the six-person DIRT inquiry. Seán Calleary was in the House for two decades before my time, but I know he was a stalwart of the Haughey Governments and of Fianna Fáil in that period. On my behalf and on behalf of our group, I pay tribute to both former Members and thank their families for their contributions.

On behalf of the Independent Alliance, I express my deepest sympathy to both families on the loss of the two Seáns. I express to Seán Calleary's family, particularly his son, Deputy Dara Calleary, my sincerest sympathy on the loss of a father and husband. As one who grew up in Tuam, County Galway, known for the Tuam Stars, I know how highly regarded Seán Calleary was in Galway circles, especially by those in UCG, those at Galwegians and people involved in Gaelic football and soccer. His was a name I grew up hearing. I did not know Seán personally, but I heard of his great work and I know he was deeply proud that his son, Deputy Dara Calleary, was elected as a Member of Dáil Éireann.

I note to the family of Seán Ardagh that he was a very special friend of mine, as Senator Catherine Ardagh and Máire Ardagh will know, and he will always have a very special place in my heart. He was an amazing politician of great skill and integrity and, above all, he was a very compassionate man. Máire, Catherine, Charlie, Rory and family have experienced a very sad loss. Seán was very close to me during many difficult times in my life and he was very friendly with my late wife, Anne. He was always very kind during the years of great difficulty, sadness and illness in our family. I will never forget that. The members of the Ardagh family know I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Máire Ardagh served as a councillor when I was a city councillor and we got on well together and had many great nights and a lot of craic. We enjoyed the moments. Seán Ardagh always encouraged us all to enjoy the moments, notwithstanding differences in our politics. He was very proud of Senator Catherine Ardagh and rang me about her campaign when he was very ill.

He was very strong, so he would have been very proud of Catherine becoming a Senator and he spent a lot of time talking about her. As the parent of two daughters also, we had many chats between breaks at the justice committee.

On a personal and political level, Seán was very professional as chairman of the justice committee. He really enjoyed diversity and difference and we had many debates, rows and differences of opinions. He was always trying to get me on board because I was the maverick, rogue Independent on the committee at the time. He was always trying to get me to reach consensus.

Look at him now.

He is the stalwart of a conservative Government.

I agree with Deputy O'Loughlin. He would be quietly smiling at me in my situation as a Minister of State in the current Government.

He would be mesmerised.

Seán was that kind of person. He enjoyed diversity and inclusion, and he got it. Nowadays it is accepted as part of politics, but in those days it was not easy to work with Independents and people with different views when one was in a mainstream party, but Seán was able to do that on the committee. As my colleagues said, he was a top class, professional politician and I was very proud when we went to Rome to talk about equality, international justice and criminal justice issues that Seán was the captain of the Oireachtas committee on justice.

When I hear words being spoken about Seán Ardagh, I think of the words "decency" and "integrity". He is a sad loss.

Again I offer my sincerest sympathy to both families. We are thinking of them on what is a sad but also a proud day for the families.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to express my heartfelt and deep sympathies to the Calleary family, to Doris, Síofra, John, Conall and my constituency colleague, Dara, who I have worked with in Mayo for the best part of ten years. This is a difficult day for the family but it is also a proud one, hearing so many kind words in the Chamber.

Seán served as a Deputy for 19 years, eight of those as a Government Minister, and by any standards that is an exceptional record of public service and one to be extremely proud of. For me in my first term in Dáil Éireann, that level of service is something to aspire to and to admire.

In my personal interactions with Seán, he was always a very considered man, an intellectual, somebody who was well read and somebody who knew his stuff. He understood politics but, more importantly, he understood Mayo politics. I knew that he was a strong source of support for Dara and for the wider Fianna Fáil organisation across Mayo, his opinion was always asked for and he was very well regarded and respected across the constituency and across the political divide. Within Fianna Fáil, we were obviously immensely proud of him and we still are but even in Fine Gael, those with whom he worked on the county council and in Dáil Éireann had great respect and admiration for him. He was a man of integrity, he was genuine and he was trusted and that is something that can be difficult for politicians but he was certainly trusted by the Mayo electorate which was evidenced by his continued electoral success and within the party, climbing to the ministerial rank. He was somebody who was seen as a support, not just for his family and his son Dara, but for the organisation and he is sorely missed within Fianna Fáil nationally and very deeply missed within Fianna Fáil in County Mayo.

As we speak today about the loss of a great public servant, I am conscious that he was a father and a husband and will be deeply missed in that regard. That is not something that will ever be replaced, but is something that one must look back on in appreciation and learn to live with. I am grateful for the opportunity to express sympathy to the family and thank my colleague, Dara, for being a kind person to work with. He embodies many of the good qualities that his father had and he has been a very supportive constituency colleague. I know that his father was immensely proud of him, as Dara was of his father.

On the death of Seán Ardagh, I offer my sympathy to my colleague and friend Catherine, who serves in Seanad Éireann, to his wife Maura, to Charlie, Rory and all of the extended family. I know how difficult this was for Catherine. Having been on the campaign trail with her during the Seanad elections, it was a testing time and she showed huge courage, steel, determination and all the good qualities that we look for in a public representative. I know how much her father meant to her and how much he impacted on her as a person and influenced her career. I am so glad that he got to see her elected to Seanad Éireann and I have no doubt that she will be elected to this House in the near future. I offer my deepest sympathies to her entire family. I did not know Seán personally, although I met him on a couple of occasions, but a bad word has never been spoken about him nor about Catherine. She is a fantastic colleague and she also embodies the good qualities that her father brought to this Chamber. It is lovely to hear all of the kind words across the House for Seán Calleary and Seán Ardagh.

I extend my deepest sympathy to the Ardagh family. I served with Seán in the House and everything said about him today was true. He was a man of common sense, dignity and honour and a man easy to work with in the Parliament.

Seán Calleary was somebody I knew when I was a member of Mayo County Council, the town council and a Dáil Deputy and he was a man that I respected greatly. Sometimes people refer to someone as a gentleman when they die but Seán Calleary was a gentleman, a man of honour and dignity and a man that I enjoyed meeting. We would always start off talking about sport, be it rugby, soccer, Gaelic football or the Mayo team, but we never finished talking without talking about politics. He loved politics and he loved Fianna Fáil and he served the people of Mayo and of Ireland very well. He was a man who had great common sense and the common touch.

I have to tell his wife and family today that he loved them and he loved Fianna Fáil - there is no pretending that he did not-----

It is not a sin yet.

-----and he never let it down and he fought and battled for it, sometimes when it was not easy.

He played sport and was in politics and in sport they say not to go for the man or the woman but for the ball and that is what Seán did. He was an honourable man, a man I had great respect for and who served the people of Mayo. We have had many politicians over the years but Seán carried out his job in a very quiet, effective and decent way and when I went to him as a colleague to make representations on behalf of the constituency, he always got back to me and was always there to support and help me in whatever way he could. I will never forget him for his kindness because whenever I would meet him, he would have a kind word for me. He knew politics inside out and he knew the difficulties that people have in politics and he always had a kind word for people.

There is no doubt but that those qualities have passed onto my colleague, Dara, and Deputy Lisa Chambers was correct about that. He is somebody who I like working with, who I respect and who has carried on the tradition of the Calleary family. It is a great honour for Dara that his grandfather and his father were elected to this House, as he has been, because it is a great honour to be elected by the people of one's county to represent them in Dáil Éireann. Seán Calleary respected that, saw it as an honour and treated it as an honour. He respected the people of Mayo. He served Fianna Fáil and the people of this country very well and he will certainly be missed. Thousands of people turned up to his funeral and I said to Dara that day, joking, that I will be looking for the number twos from him because there is no doubt but that the people who turned out on the day had great respect for the Calleary family.

His wife Doris, his sons Conall, John and Dara and his daughter Síofra are the biggest losers. They have lost a great father, a great friend and someone who I enjoyed meeting because I never left him without a smile. He had that kind way about him. He is a big loss to his family and to Fianna Fáil. He served the people of Mayo, of whom he was very proud.

I thank the Minister. Dara, we should let you have the last word.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for that. I also thank the members of the Business Committee for the honour they have bestowed on us today, which is a very difficult day but one of which we as a family are very proud. I am proud of my Dad and his achievements in this House. He served here for 19 years and enjoyed every day he had the privilege of being here. He contested seven elections. For those who think this is an uncertain time, they should consider there were three elections in 14 months in 1981 and in 1982. Dad was honoured to serve as a Minister in a number of Departments but particularly loved the honour of being the Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs in charge of overseas development aid.

He had a very good sporting track record, not something I have picked up. He played for an Oireachtas team in 1978 against the Westminster Wanderers, the Westminster soccer team. The former Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, served on that team with him. As Deputy Brendan Howlin said, he would have been thrilled that Ireland beat the All Blacks last Saturday week but he would have been even more thrilled that on the same day Easkey GAA won its first Connacht championship. He also played with Easkey, even though it is a Sligo team. He would have enjoyed both wins.

He was very conscious of the honour of serving here, the integrity one had to have as a Member of this House, and of representing all of the people. My grandparents were both active in the War of Independence and in the Civil War. They raised my Dad and my uncle in a spirt of tolerance and respect for others. My Dad played sport all his life and while he played to win and played the ball hard, he respected opposition and opposition voices. If there is one thing we can do in this House now, it is to bear that in mind.

He would have been honoured to share this occasion with the late Seán Ardagh, somebody with whom he shared main traits. They were always fond of checking in on the Mayo relations of the Ardaghs. In as much as this is our loss, it is their loss - Máire's and Catherine's - as well. I am sure Catherine's Dad would have been delighted with all the endorsements she is getting from other sides of the House about taking the seat in the next general election. We will make sure that happens for him.

I thank all the party leaders for their warm words. Our grief is very private but it is very public. Dad would have been mortified by the turnout at the funeral, but I noted the Minister, Deputy Ring canvassed it well. There will be a few in the box for him from there.

I do not know if we have lost ourselves as a family in the past six months; is it possible to have a heart that is both broken and full of pride at the one time? It is. We are full of pride about the respect and integrity in which he is held and the memories people have of him. We aspire to live up to those memories and standards as we proceed forward. His view of politics was that it was not a game but a deadly serious profession, that we had to respect the people who put us here and to work collectively for those people.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam agus go raibh míle maith agat le gach duine sa Teach. I thank everybody here, the Members of my party for their support during his illness and since then, and all of the staff of the House beyond the Chamber for their support. We are very grateful.

I invite everybody to stand for a moment's reflection.

Members rose.

May they both rest in peace.