As all Senators are aware, Senator Hillery is leaving us for bigger and better things. Next week he takes up his position in London as Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development — I understand I will be receiving his letter of resignation from Seanad Éireann before then.
Sadly, today is his last Seanad sitting day. I take this opportunity to congratulate Senator Hillery on his appointment and wish him well. This is indeed an historic occasion as it is the first time there will be an Irish director on the board of the EBRD. As Senators know, the objective of the EBRD is to foster the ongoing transition to democracy and open market economies in central and eastern Europe, including the countries of the former Soviet Union. Senator Hillery will, therefore, have the opportunity to continue his contribution to Irish industrial development in a real and practical manner.
As a personal friend and colleague of Senator Hillery, I pay tribute to his outstanding contribution to politics during his years of service with the Houses of the Oireachtas. He was first elected to this House on the Labour Panel in 1977 and as the Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Labour matters we have all been fortunate in having the benefit of his expertise in debates on employment and industrial relations.
Senator Hillery left us for the period of the 26th Dáil, when in June 1989 he was elected to represent the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown constituency. He served as Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Employment in 1992 and was a member of other Joint Committees, including the Joint Committee on State-sponsored Bodies. He has always been a committed Member of this House and to the democratic process.
Senator Hillery also has considerable banking and business experience and is currently Professor and head of the Department of Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management at the Graduate School of Business, UCD. He studied at UCD, the University of Georgia and Oxford University. He has also held positions with the ACC Bank and Citibank.
I am sure the Senator's experience, both political and business, will be of great benefit to him and I wish him well in his new position. The new post will be a demanding one but I have no doubt that Senator Hillery, with his usual calm competence will do Ireland proud. I congratulate him and wish him well in his new role.