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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 18 Apr 1945

Vol. 29 No. 24

Death of President Roosevelt—Expression of Sympathy.

Before we enter upon the business on the Order Paper, I am sure that the Seanad would desire to be associated with the expressions of sympathy which have already been tendered on behalf of the Dáil and the Government and people of this country to the Government and people of the United States.

The death of such an outstanding personality would at any time be a loss to the world, but occurring at this juncture, the death of President Roosevelt can only be regarded as a calamity. Humanity will miss his clarity of view and his leadership in the period which will follow the conclusion of hostilities.

This is not the place or the occasion to pay tribute to his work for his own people who had honoured him by electing him four times as their President. It has been said of him that "he did his job to the very end". No man could wish for a more fitting epitaph.

In expressing our sympathy with the American people we should like to express in particular our sympathy with the President's family.

I desire to move:—

That Seanad Eireann extends its deep sympathy to the Government and people of the United States of America in the great loss they have sustained in the death of President Roosevelt.

I have the honour of seconding the motion. We sympathise with the countrymen and with the family of a man whose name will endure for all time in history, will endure not as the name of a conqueror, but as a man of high vision and with a true sense of human values. As a ruler President Roosevelt had to contend with internal and external difficulties which had no parallel in history. He showed a clear ideal, a steadfast purpose, and a very rare practical capacity to handle and to mould the human material around him and to make it serve the ends which were dear to his heart. He showed his country that, vast, rich, varied and distant though it was, it could not afford to stand aloof from the problems of an ever narrowing world. His loss will be felt most when that doctrine comes to be applied to the still more complex problems of peace. President Roosevelt believed in God and in a way of life which would leave men free to worship God, and would preserve the rights of the human person. Irishmen and Irishwomen mourn his loss, and extend their sympathy to the great American nation, and to his family and his friends. Guidhimíd solus na bhflathas dá anam agus sólás is síocháin dá mhuintir.

In a House where all are nominally independent, it is permissible for one not bound by Party ties to add his words to the speeches of political leaders. A great —a very great—man is dead. He had vision to plan, energy to work, patience to wait, and courage to strike; qualities which are very rarely combined, and even more rarely combined in the service of others as they were by him; all these he devoted to winning freedom for the ordinary man. I believe that as one of the great captains of liberty he will be forever remembered. If we desire to give reality to the tributes that have been paid to him, we can do so by ensuring in our own country those ideals of liberty and justice for which he lived, and for which, I think, he died.

As Senior Member for the National University I should like to offer the sympathy of those whom I have the honour to represent, to the American people in the tragic loss they have sustained in the death of their great President. Beannacht Dé ar a anam. That loss is not theirs alone but that of the whole world, of all suffering humanity. With President Roosevelt at whatever conference may end the present appalling and disastrous conflict, there would be a hope of a true and lasting peace. For all his whole life was a proclamation of the principles on which alone such a peace could be founded—in other words, the settlement would be one that did not leave out Christ and His teachings.

When President Roosevelt took office his country was in the trough of a depression hardly less devastating in its effect on humanity than war. To fight that, and especially the dragon of unemployment—the fruitful parent of untold misery and social evil—he devoted his great gifts of heart and mind, his great courage and his great faith at a cost to himself which he never counted. He gave back to the people whom he served—and the whole world—that courage, that faith with the realisation that out of the mistakes of the past we might build a better social order and the comforting assurance that the best brains will be devoted to the making of it.

On behalf of the women of Ireland I wish to send a message of deep sympathy to Mrs. Roosevelt and her family, and we pray that God may comfort them in their hour of grief and loneliness.

Tá cás anmhór agam le muintir na Stát Aontaithe faoi n-a mbris, bás a nUachtaráin. Ach is mór é ár n-aimhreas na laetheanta seo maidir leis an gcaint agús na briathra móra seo faoi shíocháin agus deathoil. Táimid go léir san aois sin gur cuimhneach linn go raibh smaointe uaisle díreach mar iad ag Uachtarán eile bhí ar na Stáit Aontaithe. Tá faitíos orm nach léifear tuairímí chomh huasal sa seanchas faoi'n Uachtarán Roosevelt is a chualamar annseo inniu faoi, cé nach maith liom bás fir ar bith go háirithe fear ar nós an Uachtaráin deiridh bhí ar Mheiriceá.

Is iomú baint gan aimhreas, atá ag Eirinn leis na Stáit Aontaithe, ach dlíonn muintir na hÉireann an oiread de na Stáit Aontaithe is dhlíos na Stáit Aontaithe d'Eirinn; agus, anois ó tá an méid sin ráite agam, cuidím leis an rún atá tairgthe.

I deeply sympathise with the people of the United States in the loss they have sustained by the death of their late President. Some of us are old enough to remember fine sounding sentiments about peace and goodwill expressed by a former President of the United States, but I suggest that the verdict of history is not altogether in accord with the fine things that were then said. I do not wish to say any more on that aspect.

Ireland, no doubt, has had many ties with the people of the United States, but the United States owes as much to the Irish people as Ireland owes the United States, and with those few words, I support the motion which has been put forward.

Question put.

I declare the motion passed unanimously. Will Senators please rise in their places as a mark of respect to the memory of the late President?

Senators rose in their places.

I shall take steps to have the resolution transmitted through the usual diplomatic channels.