EBRD Appointment.

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.

On behalf of the Seanad and the Fianna Fáil Party group I wish to be associated with the congratulations to Senator Hillery on his appointment. It is with some pleasure, if tinged with sadness, that he will be leaving the Seanad. He has been an outstanding and competent Senator and was involved in many of the debates in the House. On each occasion he has given his views with great distinction on the issue of the day. I am pleased for Senator Hillery and his family. It is a great honour as he is the first Irish Director of this bank. While his appointment is Ireland's loss, hopefully this most important position will be a gain for the country. I am sorry we are losing Senator Hillery temporarily and hope he will maintain contact with us. I wish him and his family every success for the future.

I was somewhat previous on this matter earlier, but it is——

But sincere.

——the kind of news that bears repetition. I wish to be associated with the tributes which have been paid to Senator Hillery this morning. I have known him as a friend and a colleague over a long period. A great honour has been bestowed upon him and it provides him with a great opportunity to do good in many areas.

I know Senator Hillery will bring to his new position those qualities, as the Cathaoirleach remarked, of calmness, competence, great courtesy and integrity, which have characterised all his activities, both here and in UCD over a long period. It is with sincere feelings that I wish Senator Hillery well in his new position.

On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, and on my own behalf, I wish to be associated with the tributes paid to Senator Hillery. I congratulate him and wish him well in his new appointment. It is a most apt appointment for this, our first Director of the bank. We are all aware of Senator Hillery's great knowledge and competence and I have no doubt he will do us proud. I wish him well and hope that this will not be his last day in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

On behalf of the Labour Party I congratulate Senator Hillery on his appointment. He is a very capable person who will do a good job in Europe for us. I wish him well.

I also wish to be associated with the congratulations to Senator Hillery on his appointment as the first Irish Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I wish him well. We are all aware of his great ability in the House and of his valued contributions on many topics over the years. As one who jousted with him from time to time in the Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown constituency, I know of his gentleness, sincerity and ability and of his commitment to the constituency. As the Leader of the House remarked, there will be regret at Senator Hillery's departure from the House. However, his appointment is a great honour for him and I wish him, Miriam and family every success. If there is one silver cloud on the horizon it is that perhaps matters in Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown will be slightly easier with Senator Hillery out of the way.

I wish Senator Hillery, Miriam and the family well. I am in a unique position to do so because many years ago I was a student of Senator Hillery's as an undergraduate and post graduate when undertaking my B. Comm. and, later, my MPA. We then served in the area of realpolitik in the Commerce faculty in UCD.

Senator Hillery is a man of grace with an extraordinary talent with people and I can attest to his great kindness to young people. Senator Manning would agree with me when I say that he is legendary for lifting up the lame ducks and helping the young people with difficulties. His door was always open.

While his departure is a great loss to this House we can take pride in the fact that Senator Hillery has achieved this important appointment at such an early age. When I first met Senator Hillery I had a full crop of black hair which has now turned grey. I wondered how Senator Hillery managed to keep not only his hair but to retain the colour of it.

I understand that the Clare connection is anxious to say something.

I join with the Cathaoirleach and other Members in congratulating a fellow Clare person, Senator Hillery, on his appointment.

The name Hillery is distinguished in County Clare and has always carried honour and pride with it. The people of County Clare are especially pleased and proud that Senator Hillery has been appointed to this prestigious position.

We are all aware that he is a man of competence and keen intellect and we have no doubt that he will bring both to bear on his appointment. I am sure that in years to come he will return to the Oireachtas. I wish him, Miriam, who has always acted as an excellent ambassador when she travels with him and the family every success on this appointment.

I join with the Cathaoirleach and others in congratulating Senator Hillery on his appointment. Like Senator Roche I am in the unique position of having been elected to Seanad Éireann on the same day in 1977 as Senator Hillery. We pursued our careers in the Seanad until Senator Hillery was elected to the Dáil. I wish him every success. A wonderful colleague he was most co-operative and it was a pleasure to work with him both in Seanad Éireann and in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. I know Senator Hillery will fill the new post with dignity.

Thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for the opportunity to respond. I wish to thank you and other Members for the more than generous comments made and for the very good wishes extended to me in my new post.

I especially appreciate the tributes which the Members on the Opposition benches paid me. It is characteristic of the House. I am glad to say that I formed friendships both on the Opposition benches and on this side of the House also.

I thank my colleague from the Labour Party, the Leader of the House and the other speakers on this side of the House for their tributes. I also thank in a special way you, a Chathaoirligh, and my colleagues in the Fianna Fáil Party for the support given during all the ups and downs in politics in the years I have been a Member of the Oireachtas.

I was first elected in 1977 and I leave the House today with a feeling of sadness. I will miss all Members. Nonetheless, I look forward to my new post, which provides me with the opportunity to do something worthwhile for Ireland and its people, and for the creation of jobs in Ireland, which is very dear to my heart. I am glad that several Irish firms and individuals have made investment arrangements in the 22 countries of central and eastern Europe within the bank's remit. We have so much to offer in the advisory and consultancy areas in terms of skills and expertise. As a director of the bank, I will have to wear a corporate hat for all the work that will come before the board. It is entirely within my brief to bat for Ireland and promote Irish investment and consultancy opportunities within the commercial criteria of the bank.

I have greatly valued my membership of the House, for which I have a great affection, and the many friendships I made here. Every Member has had a great deal to contribute. There have been some outstanding contributions but every Member draws on talent and a great range of practical experience, which has enhanced the work of the House, including the legislation and motions discussed by it. There is a constructive input by the House into the legislation and other work in which we are engaged. Several Bills have been initiated here and I hope this practice will continue. The talent here offers further potential for contribution to the political process and I hope mechanisms will be devised to allow greater involvement by Members in legislative work. As I bow out, I thank all those who spoke for the generous tributes they paid to me and the good wishes they conveyed to Miriam, my family and I. I wish every Member, and those associated with the House, every happiness and success in the future. I plan to keep in touch.