Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

We will move to expressions of sympathy on the death of our former colleague, Mark Killilea. Before calling the leaders of the parties, I have the pleasure and the opportunity to express my sympathy to his wife, Anne, and to his family who are here with us, including his children, Éidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín; his sisters Vera and Bríd; and his brother-in-law, Éamon O'Donoghoe, who was Superintendent of the Houses of the Oireachtas for years.

Mark was a man of the people. He was a hard-working public representative. His father was here for 34 years, from 1927 to 1961. Mark worked at all levels in politics, at council level, in the Seanad, as a Deputy, as a Minister and as an MEP. It is important to remember that he was a quaestor in the European Parliament and was elected by colleagues across the political divide.

He distinguished himself in every chamber he represented the people of Galway or Connacht-Ulster. I had the pleasure of working with Mark in Europe and in the Dáil Éireann. Mark had a long and distinguished career. As an MEP, he majored in agricultural and rural affairs and worked closely with a former colleague in this House, Ray MacSharry, who was a European Commissioner at that time.

He was a great mentor to me when I went to Europe in 1994 after an exciting campaign. Some of the people in Connacht-Ulster will remember that. He was generous with his time when showing me the workings of the European Parliament and the committee system.

In politics, as in life, we are fortunate if we meet people with exceptional qualities. Mark Killilea was naturally gifted, talented, sincere and generous with his time. When one meets someone like that, one always remember them. I remember well our first campaign in 1994. When I go west, I still hear Tina Turner in my ear, singing "Simply the Best". He felt he was simply the best and it was an exciting campaign.

It is popular to build walls now. Mark Killilea, while he was good at everything, he was not great at the geography of Ireland. He had an imaginary wall-----

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle was not too good at it himself.

-----around Donegal.

One could not get a wall big enough for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

One could go no further, but I say that in jest. We were great friends, we survived that and had a great life together.

Let me clarify once and for all that it was Mark Killilea who said that he represented those who ate their dinner in the middle of the day. Ar lámh dheis Dé atá a anam uasal dílis.

As is customary, I call on the Fianna Fáil Party leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, to speak, as Mark Killilea is a deceased member of that political party.

Duine agus polaiteoir den scoth ab ea Mark Killilea. Tírghráthóir a bhí ann. Duine a thuig tábhacht an ghnáthdhuine agus bhí Mark dílis dá mhuintir féin agus dá dhúiche féin. Bhí suim dháiríre faoi leith aige i gcúrsaí reatha na tíre. Feirmeoir cumasach a bhí ann agus d'oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son fheirmeoirí agus mhuintir na tuaithe ar fud na tíre. Fear cineálta, cairdiúil, grámhar ab ea é. bhí sé páirteach in an-chuid rudaí agus go háirithe bhí grá faoi leith i gcúrsaí Chumann Lúthchleas Gael agus go háirithe Cumann Chora Finne, mar is eol dom féin. Bhí sé gnóthach in a lán rudaí agus bhí a lán cairde aige ach gan amhras bhí sé éifeachtach agus bhain sé an-chuid rudaí amach i rith a shaoil.

Mark Killilea was born in 1939, one of six children, in Ballinamore Bridge outside Ballygar. He was born into an intensely political family, a family that believed in developing an inclusive Ireland and a society that afforded opportunities to all, and he loved his country. He often spoke fondly of his late father who was also called Mark, who as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said was first elected as a Deputy in the 1920s and served right up to the late 1960s, which was an extraordinary career in itself. Mark's father was an extraordinary man. He was a farmer and was an active member in the War of Independence and a founding member of Fianna Fáil. He was a person from that great generation that laid the foundations of the State.

It is not surprising then, given that public service ethos in the family and that commitment to country, that Mark himself would enter the political arena. Prior to politics, he too was a farmer, a beet grower, an auctioneer, an agricultural contractor and an extraordinarily multi-talented individual. I have listened to some of his interviews. He started out as a councillor, became a Senator in 1969 and a Deputy in 1977. He was a very effective Minister of State with responsibility for posts and telegraphs and he was a Member of the European Parliament from 1987 to 1999.

He too believed in public service and was a member of many organisations and had a particular love of the Gaelic Athletic Association and his beloved Corofin GAA club, which has achieved so much. Mark was a very gregarious and charismatic person and politician and drew people towards him. One of his great friends in politics, Ray MacSharry, summed up Mark very well when he said:

Markeen was friendly, humble, sharp, alert and confident. He was always a family man, a community man, a sportsman, and a great public servant.

As the Leas-Cheann Comhairle said, it was Mark who, when describing Fianna Fáil supporters, because the interviewer at the time had asked who were these people, said he represented the people who ate their dinner in the middle of the day. When one met Mark, one always remembered his relaxed witty and straight talking ways. When I became leader of Fianna Fáil, he was not slow to pick up the phone to give me advice on potential candidates, strategy and so on. He give it to one straight because he had a passion about renewing and recovering the party.

Over the last few days I listened to his interviews. In his early days, as a councillor, he chaired the health board.

He initially ran for the Dáil in 1973. In his own style, he said he was nicked of that seat when the Roscommon boxes came in. He lost by just 140 votes. In the great election victory of 1977, he won a seat. He was influential in the election of Charles J. Haughey as Taoiseach in 1979. He was then appointed as a Minister of State and worked brilliantly with his senior Minister, Albert Reynolds.

Many among our younger generations will find it difficult to comprehend how hard it was to get a phone into a house in the late 1970s. There were extraordinary delays of months. Between them, however, Mark Killilea and Albert Reynolds took the country by storm in terms of getting rid of the waiting times for telephones. That strategy transformed Ireland and prepared it for the subsequent economic development that took place. It was pivotal in attracting a great deal of inward investment. As Mark said, they went about it with energy and commitment. It came within budget as well. I will not mention broadband or anything like that but I suspect that if we had had Mark Killilea and Albert Reynolds around, we might not have been waiting so long.

The early 1980s, when I was a student in UCC, were a traumatic and difficult time for politicians. There were three elections in 1981 and 1982. It was a time of great instability and trauma for political families. Think about it - three general elections in 18 months. Mark was successful in two out of three of those, but alas not in the last one. He was subsequently re-elected to the Seanad. He was quite witty in his observations on the differences between a Seanad election and a Dáil election. He developed a great respect for councillors and their professionalism on the basis, he said, that they knew how to cod you. He said that, if one were to believe all those who said they would vote for one, one would end up with three quotas, but it never quite turned out that way.

In 1987, Ray MacSharry returned to Ireland from the European Parliament and Mark got his opportunity to become an MEP. He was returned to it in subsequent elections. It is fair to say that he saw his membership of the Europe Parliament as his favourite period of his political career. He was influential across the European Parliament, influencing much of the policy that emanated from it and elsewhere in the EU, particularly in the context of small and medium-sized farmers. He ensured that regional and technical colleges received EU social funding to commence research. At that time, universities were leading in that regard. He negotiated the western package, which allowed farmers from Donegal to Kerry to create vital farm infrastructure. He also helped to design the LEADER programme, which became a model for rural development.

I mentioned that he was a gregarious individual. He developed great friendships in politics across all parties. That is a trait of parliamentarians that we sometimes understate. It is important to be able to cross the floor and work alliances to get policies through. His friendship with former MEP Barry Desmond, for example, facilitated the socialist group supporting the Common Agricultural Policy reform deal when it was going through the European Parliament. He was particularly friendly with Ian Paisley. Interestingly, that was the experience of many of our MEPs. Mark would say that the image of Ian Paisley in the North, with all of his hardline rhetoric, did not quite materialise in the European Parliament context. He said that the late Ian Paisley often asked him for advice on the CAP reform package and was particularly praising of Ray MacSharry's lead in reforming CAP while a Commissioner. According to Mark, Ian Paisley would say that in Parliament only months after "he tried to run the Pope from [the same] Parliament". Mark was elected as a quaestor by his fellow MEPs. That was a significant election, as it showed the respect and esteem in which he was held across the Parliament. It illustrated the different perspectives from which Mark and Ian Paisley came. Mark organised a minor celebration in the bar with some colleagues. Notwithstanding the late Ian Paisley's puritanical attitude to alcohol-----

The devil's buttermilk.

-----Mr. Paisley shouted in, "Will you give up drinking that devil's buttermilk?" Undaunted, Mark responded, "Come in and have one [yourself]." That was the nature of the banter and relationship between the two.

Mark always said that he could never have become a politician without his friendship and partnership with his beloved wife, Anne. They worked extremely hard as a team for their community. At times when elections did not work out for them, they worked even harder and kept going with the support of their large and extended family. Mark and Anne would canvass as two separate teams in some respects. We know the feeling. Anne would take her team to different parts of the constituency. They believed in knocking on doors and meeting people. Mark was unlucky with boundary changes, with his constituency changing three times, which posed significant electoral challenges for him. He and Anne were always best friends in that regard. He spoke on radio about this support during their 53 years of marriage. He said how he "would of course get the odd dressing down but overall our marriage was very satisfactory". They met and married at a young age and had eight children: Éidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín. Of course, we remember that Mark and Anne lost their son, Mark, who was taken from them in a tragic car accident. I remember Medbh describing her father as a man who taught them all to love politics, farming and food, that last being particularly important. He also taught them how to "live life with great common sense, a positive attitude and a twist of humour." I am delighted to hear that the wife of Councillor Donagh Killilea, Mark and Anne's son, of whom Mark was particularly proud, gave birth to a baby yesterday. He has been named Mark. It is good to know that the dynasty continues.

All of the Killilea family will remember Mark as a great husband, a devoted father and grandfather, and someone who brought great love and fun to their lives. He was also a great public servant from our perspective, one who worked all his life for his community. He is sorely missed by all. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I never had the privilege of meeting Mark Killilea, but I am delighted to learn that we shared a love of Tina Turner. I am happy to advise the House that she and I are not currently in correspondence.

Or ever, by the way, just in case the Deputies wanted to ask.

I am grateful to have this opportunity to pay tribute to a member of the Fianna Fáil family who gave a lifetime of service to our country. These tributes, which we pay on occasion in the Dáil, are very important occasions. They serve a higher purpose than simply honouring those who have served in this House and paying our respects to their families. They also remind us, across all parties and none, of the higher purposes of politics - about loyalty, about love of community and about helping others. Around the world, we have seen a coarsening of political debate, and a cynicism and nastiness about politics has crept into popular discourse. Paying tribute to honourable servants of our country like Mark Killilea sweeps away some of that cynicism and reminds us of what unites us all in politics instead of focusing on differences.

Mark devoted his life to helping others and to helping the country, and by honouring him and others like him, we remember why we became involved in politics in the first place and are inspired to try to do better and try to do more.

Bhí an-ghnaoi agus an-mheas ag an bpobal ar Mark Killilea mar pholaiteoir a rinne fónamh dár dtír mar chomhairleoir Contae, mar Sheanadóir, Mar Theachta Dála, mar Aire Stáit, mar Fheisire de Pharlaimint na hEorpa agus mar chaestóir. Bhí sé an-éasca dó cairdeas a dhéanamh le daoine ar chruthaigh sé nasc in Eoraip leo ar bhain Éire tairbhe go buan astu. Ba pholaiteoir é a chreid go n-itear an dinnéar i lár an lae. Mar Aire Stáit, chuir se feabhas ar chúrsaí cumarsáide in Éirinn agus d'fhág sé oidhreacht shuntasach ar sheirbhís poiblí dúinn.

In many ways, Mark Killilea epitomised the spirit of public service. His father, also Mark, was a founding member of Fianna Fáil and served as a Deputy for almost 34 years.

Markeen, as he was known to many of his friends, inherited a belief in helping others as well as a love of community. He served the people of Galway and our country with distinction.

As Deputy Micheál Martin mentioned, when Mark became a Deputy in 1977, the waiting list to have a phone line connected to one's house was legendary. Indeed, it was one of the queries most frequently received by Deputies. As Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs from 1979 to 1981, he oversaw a revolution in our communications network which ensured that the problem was eventually fixed.

Mark made many telling contributions in the House, but perhaps most effective were the heckles he deployed against members of my party. He famously described Professor John Kelly as a pitch and toss merchant. The Irish Times reports that Mark had the ability to halt an entire debate in its tracks with his interruptions. Indeed, we are told he bashed the Opposition's record on everything from security to potato plants. As an MEP from 1987 to 1999, he had many achievements, most notably working on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy such that small farmers would be able to prosper. Everyone liked and trusted Mark and he was able to make alliances and friendships, including with Ian Paisley. He often attempted to bring together countries that were arguing with each other and sometimes did so with success.

He loved sport, especially his beloved Corofin GAA club, fishing and horse racing, and won many prizes playing golf. Whether as a farmer, businessman, auctioneer or politician, he lived a life of hard work and integrity.

I offer my condolences and those of Fine Gael to his wife Anne, their children Éidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín, and all of their family and friends. We also remember their son, Mark, who died tragically in 2009. Donagh has continued the family tradition of public service as a councillor representing the people of Tuam and I know Mark's daughter, Medbh, as a result of her excellent work for the Government Information Service, following on a proud family tradition of service to the State through politics and the Civil Service. Mark did the State much service. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Shinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus le cairde an iarTheachta Mark Killilea, a fuair bás i Mí na Nollag. On my behalf and that of Sinn Féin, I wish to express sincere sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of former Teachta Mark Killilea who passed away last December.

Bhí gairm fada ag an iarTheachta Killilea in oifig phoiblí agus táim cinnte de go bhfuil a mhuintir an-bhródúil as seo. As has been stated, Mark had a very long and, indeed, distinguished career in public office. I am sure his clan are extremely proud of that. He served as a member of Galway County Council, as a Member of the Dáil on behalf of the people of Galway, in the Seanad and, of course, at the European Parliament with great distinction. He also served as Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. It seems his record there is a matter of legend in the context of telephone connections in the early 1980s under the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, whom he, as a member of the so-called gang of five, backed during the Fianna Fáil leadership context in 1979, something which, I am sure, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle recalls. I will not elaborate on that, but I wish to recall, as others have, that he coined the famous phrase that the ordinary people of Ireland are those who eat their dinner in the middle of the day. If ever there was a political concept or phrase that will resonate down the generations, that for sure is it.

I did not know Mark, but he was evidently extremely in tune with the people of his constituency and this country. His work ethic, ability and achievements have been attested to and I wish to join with others in extending condolences to his wife, Anne, his children Éidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín, and the rest of his family and friends. We recall also his son, Mark, agus cuirimid fáilte freisin roimh baby Mark as the family lineage continues. I am sure that, for all of them, he was and always will be simply the best. We extend our sympathies to our colleagues on the Fianna Fáil benches and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle on the loss of a colleague and a friend. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

It is my privilege on my behalf and that of the Labour Party to join colleagues in expressing appreciation for a life extraordinarily well lived and remembering, on his passing, a Member of this House, the Seanad and the European Parliament who served our nation with such distinction. I send the condolences of my party to Fianna Fáil as well as the Killilea family. The Taoiseach is correct that it is important to take time out of the normal business of the House to reflect on colleagues who have passed on.

One of the words used in respect of Members of this House is "patriot". Various Deputies would define that word in different ways. I regard Mark Killilea as a patriot. He genuinely loved his country and was passionate about it and his personal beliefs. I did not agree with much of what he espoused. Mark and I came into the Seanad at the same time in the 1980s. I was delighted to be there, but I am not sure he was quite as happy to become a Senator, having previously served in this House and as a distinguished Minister of State. He was a very careful thinker with a clear vision of politics. Many people underestimated him, but he understood what he wanted to achieve and worked very hard on his objectives.

I had occasion to meet him outside the Houses once or twice in the Thomas Moore Tavern, a place of imbibement in my home town of Wexford, where he told me he was related to a person with whom I worked very closely for a very long time, namely, my special adviser, Anne Byrne. I did not quite work out the relationship between them, although I may figure it out over the course of the day. Anne certainly believed they were close relatives and was always in very close discussion with Mark when he visited.

Reference has been made to his passion for agriculture and rural life, of which he was a great defender, as well as his service in terms of telecommunications. In many ways, his time as a Minister of State, in combination with the senior Minister for telecommunications, allowed us to move on from the farcical situation whereby people were waiting for two years for a telephone connection. Everybody in need of a connection went to their local Deputy to make strong representations to get it, which was very bizarre. I am not sure whether it is true, but I was told that Mark always had a number of telephone devices in his car which he would give to constituents. They would still have to wait two years for a connection, but it gave them hope that they were closer to getting a connection.

They were halfway there.

His service as Minister of State facilitated the leap from analogue to digital technology. In many ways, we moved very quickly from a very Third World telecommunications infrastructure to what was a First World infrastructure.

There are many stories about his passionate support for Charles Haughey. Many people think this Dáil is bizarre, but it is calm in comparison with some of the Dáileanna of that era. The Irish Independent referred to his role in the election of the Taoiseach in 1982:

Killilea would again come to Haughey's rescue, although he had lost his seat in Galway in 1982, having switched to a new constituency because of boundary changes. When it came to a crucial vote for Taoiseach in the new government, Killilea was among those who thronged Leinster House to see whether the hung Dáil would vote Haughey or his nemesis Garret FitzGerald into the Taoiseach's office.

The vote was so tight nobody really knew the outcome - and it seemed to be swinging away from Haughey when a farcical situation developed as three Workers' Party TDs, who had pledged to vote for Haughey, were hampered by the crowds on the main staircase from getting into the chamber before the division bells rang and the doors were locked from the inside, leaving them stranded.

Killilea's experience of the layout of Leinster House was invaluable. "This way, lads," he shouted and led them through a doorway to the press gallery, from which the three TDs were able to jump into the Distinguished Visitors Gallery - to the surprise of Maureen Haughey and various ambassadors seated there - and then into the chamber.

They were then able to vote for Haughey, who was elected Taoiseach...

To Mark Killilea's great satisfaction, Charles Haughey was elected Taoiseach. A Deputy needs guile, wit, knowledge and wisdom to operate well in this House. All of those attributes were amply demonstrated during Mark Killilea's honourable service here. It was my privilege to have known him. He has served our nation with great distinction.

I did not mention his European service, which was even more renowned. He served in the European Parliament. To be elected one of the five quaestors of the European Parliament is important because they look after the affairs of the MEPs. MEPs are rather discerning about who they trust to look after their own affairs. This is clear from the fact that only five are elected, while this week we are going to elect 14 vice presidents of the European Parliament. Those from the entire body across all the nations trusted their well-being and welfare in the hands of Mark Killilea. That speaks greater volumes of praise than I can muster.

I offer my condolences to Anne and Mark's children, Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín, as well as to his sisters Brid and Vera. We remember Mark, his son, who died tragically in 2009. To all of his family and the friends and acquaintances of this great individual I send the condolences of the Labour Party.

I welcome the Killilea family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery today, especially his wife, Anne. The Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Canney, cannot be here today. He is caught up with ministerial business and he asked me to pass on his apologies.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to say a few words about Mark Killilea on behalf of the Rural Independent Group. I had the pleasure of knowing Mark. The first time I met him was in the 1980s. I was a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil and of the comhairle dáil ceantair for Fianna Fáil. We were at a meeting in Flannery's Hotel after the local elections. We were waiting for the results of the council elections to see what had happened. The make-up of the council at the time was tight. The door burst open and in came Mark. He was absolutely fuming. They had lost the vote for the chain of office of Galway County Council that day. Two councillors who were members of Sinn Féin switched and voted with Fine Gael. Mark gave a memorable speech that night. I will not repeat any of it here.

My late father, Peter, was a great supporter of Mark. He canvassed for Mark during many elections. Deputy Howlin touched on the story of the telephone lines. I remember my father coming home one night when he was fuming. He said that if he saw another telephone handed or bought into a house he would be mad. People would point to the telephone and say that Mark gave it to them and told them they would have the line within three or four months, but they did not get it within that time. My father was getting abuse from the odd house. I am delighted to say the people did get the line eventually and the telephones began working.

He was a keen golfer. I often met him out in Ballyconneely when we had our Oireachtas outings. Mark was president when I was captain. People never really see Donie Cassidy losing his cool as secretary of the Oireachtas golf society but I remember the day I was captain. I was hosting the captain's prize. We allocated two hours in the morning for Mark from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Oireachtas Members then had from 10 a.m. to noon and then the guests had time. It was a bad wet windy morning but the weather was to clear at 10 a.m. Mark told all his guests and friends who were playing to turn up at 10 a.m. There was utter chaos. The Taoiseach at the time, Deputy Enda Kenny, came to play. He was supposed to be playing at 10.30 a.m. He did not get out until 11.15 a.m. Donie Cassidy lost it. There was chaos on the tee box. No one could find Mark. He eventually arrived at 11.30 a.m. or so with a smile from ear to ear. He told Donie to calm down and that it was alright because everyone had got out onto the course. I will not repeat what Donie said.

Mark had many highs in his life and many lows. I remember calling at the house at the time when his son, Mark, died tragically. It was a tough time and a sad time for his wife, Anne, and the Killilea family.

Mark had a long and distinguished carrier in politics. Deputy Ó Cuív might touch on the story told in Galway County Council. When the agenda came out, Mark would look at it. If there was nothing exciting or nothing to have a row about, he would contact John Donnellan, the Fine Gael councillor. John was another avid golfer. They would arrange among themselves to have a blazing row in the council chamber so that they could grab a headline. Perhaps Deputy Ó Cuív might expand on the matter, but that was the story we were told.

Mark had a long and distinguished career in politics. He was from a great political family. He served in the Seanad and Dáil. He was a Minister of State and a member of the European Parliament. On behalf of the Rural Independent Group and on my behalf I wish to offer my sympathies to his wife, Anne, following her loss. I also wish to offer my sympathies to Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall and Donagh. I congratulate Donagh on the birth of the child. It is great to see the name Mark continuing the legacy. I hope Donagh will have a long career in politics and that Mark will follow suit. I offer my sympathies to Medbh and Eimhín, as well as to Mark's sisters, Brid and Vera, and his adored grandchildren. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

I welcome the Killilea family to the Chamber. I welcome Anne and all her children who are present. I congratulate Donagh on the birth of his baby, Mark, in recent days.

I did not know Mark Killilea. To the best of my knowledge, we never crossed paths. I did not serve with him and I did not serve with Donagh. I had left the council before he joined. Of course, I know the Killilea name and I know Mark Killilea by reputation and by the regard with which he was held in Galway. I know him from the stories in the Connacht Tribune when I was a young person reading about politics. I know him as a larger than life figure. The best know stories have all been repeated here today, including Deputy Howlin's comments about the vote for Charlie Haughey and Deputy Micheál Martin's comments regarding the telephones and eating dinners in the middle of the day. Those are the three things that jump out in terms of the folklore that has gone down about Mark Killilea.

Like any politician, especially one who has served at county council level and as a Deputy, Senator and MEP, Mark did not get there by accident or chance but as a result of hard work. We all know that. Anyone who has served in those positions has a reputation for hard work. Mark had that reputation too. Many people have faced difficulties when boundary changes arise. He was between east and west Galway. He was around Galway at the same time as some big figures in Fianna Fáil politics, including Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Frank Fahey, Bobby Molloy and others, and, for the Labour Party, the current President. It was a tough area before the young whippersnapper, Deputy Ó Cuív, came along later in that period. There were large figures within Fianna Fáil politics in that area. Mark was part of that and went on to serve as a Deputy, Minister of State, Senator and MEP. This shows the regard with which he was held and the reputation that he had for hard work. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Is cúis bróin é seo, ach ar bhealach eile is deis é chun ómós a thaispeáint do Mark Killilea. Déanaim comhbhrón lena bhean, Anne, agus leis a chlann Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh, Medbh and Eimhín. The biggest tragedy in Mark and Anne's lives was the death of their son Mark, which happened very suddenly, just ten years before Mark's own death. Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé.

The Killilea family history in politics goes back a long time, to the foundation of Fianna Fáil in 1927. I am delighted that my colleague, Deputy Haughey, is beside me because he is a grandson of Seán Lemass and our three families go back to those founding times. I knew Mark well because we shared a constituency, though Mark had been in politics a long time before I started and was in what was then the Galway East area. Galway West was initially a three-seat constituency, which incorporated Galway city and Connemara. Mark represented east Galway well in this House, having been elected to the Dáil in 1977 and having served in the Seanad before that. When the constituency review took place, Galway West became a large five-seat constituency stretching from Clare right up to Mayo, and the east of the city was added in as well. To say that constituency was competitive, especially within Fianna Fáil, would be the understatement of the year. Three elections were held between 1981 and 1982 and while Mark was elected in 1981, he lost out in 1982. Those were tough times for politicians, as they had to fund three elections only to find out at the end that they had lost their positions as Teachtaí Dála. Mark was then elected to the Seanad. Those were difficult times for politicians and their families, particularly for those who won some elections only to lose in the later ones. We should never forget the challenges they faced.

While our political careers overlapped, the only election I contested with Mark was in 1987. There were four Fianna Fáil candidates on that ticket, namely, Frank Fahey, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Mark Killilea and I. I came up the rear in fourth place and unfortunately for Mark, while he came in third, Fianna Fáil only won two seats. That was after Bobby Molloy had joined the Progressive Democrats. Shortly after that election, a rumour went around that Mark Killilea was about to return to Irish politics. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle can correct me but I recall that there was two people ahead of Mark on the list, namely, the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and Noel Treacy, and Mark was the third substitute. When Mark was asked about Europe he said he had not heard anything and did not know whether he would fall into that position but if he was called to go to Europe, he would drive off so fast people would hear the pebbles hitting the windows of his house. He had a fantastic turn of phrase for every situation and other phrases of his have been quoted here today. He had a fantastic way of relating to everyday things.

Mark went to Europe and although he had been a successful politician on the national stage, what he achieved in Europe may have surprised those who did not know him. The impact he made in the European scene was extraordinary. He sat in the European Parliament from 1987 to 1999 and could have gone on longer if he had so chosen. One of his greatest abilities was his ability to relate to ordinary people and their day-to-day problems. He spoke plain English and could translate complicated concepts in such a way that the listener of a radio or television programme could understand them. He did not engage in hyperbole or beat about the bush. I remember how well he explained the changes that were taking place during the MacSharry reforms, when agricultural payments were first introduced. Those reforms changed the face of agriculture in Ireland, the west in particular. Mark Killilea was a legend, both in Fianna Fáil and in politics in the west of Ireland.

I was not on the council at the same time as Mark Killilea and John Donnellan so I do not know the full story, but they often had public rows. However, it was always like cath na mbó maol, or the battles of deer horn cows that never harmed anybody. It certainly did not harm the two protagonists, as both of them were fairly well met when it came to debate.

Fear mór, gráúil agus cáirdiúil a bhí i Mark. Fear na ndaoine a bhí ann, agus fear é a sheas go dílis dhá mhuintir féin, do phobal an iarthair agus do phobal na Gaillimhe faoi chéile. Airíonn muid uainn é, ón uair a tháinig scéal a bháis ar Oíche Chinn Bliana na bliana seo caite. Mar a dúirt mé ag an tús, comhbhrón lena bhean chéile, lena chlann, agus lena gharrchlann. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

As Deputy Ó Cuív noted, Mark Killilea represented the constituency of Galway East. I call one of its current representatives, Deputy Anne Rabbitte.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for the opportunity to welcome to the House this afternoon the Killilea family, including his wife Anne, members of the extended Killilea family and Mark's close friend and colleague, Tom Craven. Mark Killilea was affectionately known to us in Galway East, and probably to many more across the country, as "Markeen", or if one was bold about it, one would ask, "Where's Killilea?". Mark was a legend. His name and deeds went before him and the tales we have heard today are all true. I was only a child when there was talk of the telephones Deputy Grealish referred to, but people were lucky if they got a telephone because then they knew they were in with Mark. That telephone gave them great hope.

Mark Killilea was friendly, popular and well-respected across all parties. He was a giant, not only in Galway politics but nationally and internationally. He held positions across the political spectrum, from councillor on Galway County Council, to Deputy, Minister and MEP. He always brought the same level of enthusiasm and dedication to all his work. As a public representative, he always worked hard for the people he represented or, to borrow the famous phrase, the people who ate their dinner in the middle of the day.

He did not have a Facebook or Twitter account during the many elections he contested. It was the family members, connections and respect he built up over the years that elected him. It is not easy to go out and get elected, particularly as he and Anne had eight young children at one time. The length of time he served at various levels has to be respected. Many of us would love to mirror that in our political careers. Now that we have Facebook and Twitter, we have a short pass to getting elected in some regards but Mark had to do it the hard way, as did many of his colleagues.

Mark was integral in reshaping the Irish telecoms network following his appointment as Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs under Charles Haughey. I am sure he would have some interesting words to say on the broadband fiasco today. As a farmer, beef producer and silage contractor, Mark knew the many challenges facing farmers around the country, and he brought his experience to bear on the European stage when elected MEP for the Connacht-Ulster constituency. Mark played a key role in reforming the Common Agricultural Policy, ensuring small farmers received greater and fairer payments.

With regard to Mark's private life, we heard earlier about his love of golf but he also had a great love for Ballyconneely. He loved the Ballinrobe races and, above all, he loved Corofin GAA.

That is where he spent time with his family and where many of his family memories were created and they are still talked about to this day. His young grandson, Shane, talks about going to Ballyconneely and he asked my son to join him for a weekend there to do some swimming. That is what memories are about. There was also talk about Ballinrobe races. Shane is not joining us here today but I hope later in Irish college they will listen to what Deputy Micheál Martin, our leader, said. The teacher might test them on translating it very well.

Not only is Mark greatly missed by his wife, Anne, and his family he is also missed by the Fianna Fáil organisation in Tuam where he spent a long time and spoke great words of wisdom and offered direction. I was one of the people who benefited from Mark’s words of wisdom. I visited him about three and a half years ago in Caherhugh House, where he sat me down and gave me a cup of tea. When Mark gave you a cup of tea he also gave you words of wisdom, and you listened eagerly because he was setting you on the right path. That half day I spent with him in Caherhugh House where he gave me direction set me on the right road to contest a general election. I will be ever grateful to Mark and his family for sharing that space.

We remember fondly today Donagh, Anna, Tess and their baby, Mark junior who was born today, and also Niamh, who is not with us. They are here with us in spirit and I have no doubt they are listening in. It is important to say that Donagh is a chip off the old block when it came to sharing words of wisdom and knowing how to cut a deal but one would always have to keep a good eye on him at the same time because the trickery and jovialness of the Killileas is still there.

Mark Killilea and his role in Irish politics will be remembered forever. He was a legend in his lifetime but he will continue to be a legend after his passing.

I call Deputy Eugene Murphy who, in terms of representation, claims part of Galway.

I do not intend to engage the House too long on the basis that our party leader has covered everything. As Deputy Rabbitte was speaking, I was thinking that we now have the constituencies of Roscommon-Galway, Galway East and Galway West but it used to be known for many years as Roscommon-East Galway and Galway West. As our party leader pointed out, Mark originally came from Ballinamore Bridge in east Galway, which is now part of my constituency.

I welcome Anne, his wife, many members of his family, many of his grandchildren and friends who are here today. I first met Mark when I was appointed chairman of Ógra Fianna Fáil in County Roscommon, which is a good few years ago now. I always remember him for his enthusiasm. He always struck me as being very confident, astute and good at organising politics, canvasses and people. I believe it is accepted by everybody, regardless of what side of the House one is on, that Mark, as a junior spokesperson in the then Department of Posts and Telegraphs, along with Albert Reynolds revolutionised telecommunications at that time. If he was still with us together, I have no doubt that he and Albert Reynolds would find a way around the difficulties we have with the provision of broadband.

We should never forget the role he played in Europe, which was quite remarkable. Specifically, I mention the Common Agricultural Programme, CAP, and his many valuable ideas and contributions towards the framing of it. Also, in education, he played a major role in securing finance from Europe for a regional technical college, which was vital for young people particularly in many towns in rural areas.

When I was in Ógra Fianna Fáil we were at a meeting and referring to the CAP and people were saying there would be millions for this and for that but Mark said to me, "Gasúr, never mind talking about the millions, have you sheep farmers living close to you?" to which I replied I had and he said: "Tell them it will mean they will make IR£10 a head extra on their ewe". He broke it down like that in a practical way for people.

It was good to know him. I always loved his company. As Deputy Micheál Martin said, he was certainly a gregarious character. I am delighted to have had a few minutes to express my sympathy. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.

I ask the House to bear with me as we have run on a little. The Killilea and MacSharry families were inextricably linked. I will allow Deputy MacSharry a minute to say a few works.

I welcome Anne, Eidín, Niamh, Deirbrin, Niall, Donagh is here in spirit, Medbh, Eimhín, Bid, his sister, Vera is not here with us today, and we have special memory for Mark junior today. I welcome also his grandchildren. I welcome Mr. Tom Craven, as a representative of the many tens of thousands of people who supported the Killilea family and politics through the generations, as others have said. He was not only a great loyal friend and supporter of Mark Killilea who we are discussing, but of his father, the original Mark, and he is key to Donagh’s political career as it continues. He is a most appropriate representative of all who supported the Killileas through the year. Tom is very welcome here.

Family and loyalty was everything to the Mark Killilea that I have known all my life. It epitomised all his work and actions. It did not require a report from PwC or KPMG or consideration by a sub-agency: Mark Killilea was guided by the people. The Taoiseach alluded to the fact that there is coarseness in politics now. While we may have developed that coarseness, what we have truly lost is the fact that giants of the tradition of public representation like Mark Killilea were guided by the people. That was in every single thing that he did.

Mark mentored many in their political careers, some of whom went on to be Commissioners, taoisigh, leas-cheann comhairlí, Senators and TDs, including myself in my own political career which started in 2002. Much of that mentoring took place - the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will not mind me mentioning this - in 30, Clareville Road, Harold’s Cross in an era when public representatives in the Dáil and the Seanad were not resourced in terms of expenses to be able to say in hotels, as we are lucky enough to be able to do today. In terms of TDs and Senators, the originals were Mark Killilea, Ray MacSharry, Pat the Cope Gallagher, the late Flor Crowley and former Senator Bernard McGlincey. If only the walls of No. 30 could talk, there was much wisdom imparted by Mark Killilea to other people who went on to have very successful carers in their own right. While they were the originals, later there was the former Minister, John Browne, and the former Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, who all went there.

As alluded to by others, and I have the express permission of the author, Mark Killilea’s fingerprints were all over the CAP reforms of the 1990s. Its passage and commentary through the European Parliament, as alluded to by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, was at the hands and behest of the extraordinary ability that Mark Killilea had to bring people with him. He was a giant in the tradition of public representation, a man who was all graces and no airs. While those of us who entered public life and are in it after he is gone would seek to try to walk in his steps, nobody will ever fill his shoes.

The Minister of State, Deputy Canney, has retuned from his ministerial duties. I will allow him to make a brief intervention, even though he was not forgotten.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I apologise for not being here. I was at a ministerial function and I had to pull myself away from it to try to get here. If I get a fine for speeding, we will know why; it was all Markeen’s fault.

Have a word with the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, about it. The Minister of State will be all right.

He will be all right. As Mark's neighbour and a family friend, it is important to say that the Killileas and Canneys were always great friends and they still are.

Everybody talks about his political agility, his political wit and so on, but what I remember most about Mark Killilea was that he was a neighbour and a friend. When we were up in Bob Scales's land every summer, he was there and he never offered us anything other than advice. When I was in Fianna Fáil, he was always a good friend and when I left Fianna Fáil, he still gave me advice, which was good. He never had animosity towards anybody. He was a good friend to everybody.

From the point of view of Belclare, we have lost someone great in that we have lost Mark Killilea. Corofin has lost someone great.

What lives on is his memory and all the stories that go with that. Last week, we talked about the late Jackie Healy-Rae. Who originally referred to the common person who ate their dinner in the middle of the day is a dispute that will carry on but I think Mark would win the battle there. I am delighted I got back in time to say a few words. It is great to see everyone from Belclare and Tuam.

Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh a anam.

Members rose.