It was with deep regret that we learned of the sudden death of a very esteemed former Member of this House, Senator James Larkin. Nominated to the Seanad in 1982 by the then Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey, he served as a Member of the House for only one year. To those of us who had the pleasure and honour of serving with him, he commanded the respect of all for hard work, dedication and commitment to public life.
James was first elected a member of the Letterkenny local urban district council in 1967. He was chairman of that council on five different occasions, including a term of three years in the early nineties. He was a highly respected member of Donegal Vocational Education Committee and a member of the National Library Board at a time when the new library at Oliver Plunkett Road was developed. He was also a member of the national executive of the Municipal Authorities of Ireland and a founder member of Independent Fianna Fáil. He was a life long friend of the late Neil Blaney, TD, and directed every election on his behalf since the early seventies. He had a record of never losing an election which he directed. He gave his wholehearted support to the development of Letterkenny. When he spoke at council meetings, we are told, everyone listened. He was not a man to seek the limelight but in his own quiet way he got the work done. Regardless of political or religious persuasions, he was supported by people from all walks of life.
A fine sportsman, he was highly thought of in the sporting world. He was a prominent member of St. Eunan's GAA club where he played senior football from the age of 15 years. He won his first senior county championship medal in 1956 and went on to win three more titles, captaining the team in 1969 — the same year as he and his team mates took the cup to the United States of America. A former chairman, manager and secretary of St. Eunan's Club, he was proud to be manager when the club won the 1972 county championship. Such was his involvement and commitment to his county that his sudden death has shocked and saddened the people of Donegal who mourn his passing.
On behalf of the House and the Fianna Fáil Party, I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Eileen, his sons, Dessie and Kieran, daughters, Carla and Alison and his brother and sisters. May he rest in peace.
It was with deep regret that we learned some time ago of the death of a respected former Member of this House, Bobby Burke. Senator Burke was a member of the Labour Party and a candidate in the Dáil elections in County Galway from 1933 to 1948. He was a member of Galway County Council for many years and was elected to Seanad Éireann on the Agricultural Panel in 1948 where he served until 1950 at which time both he and his wife, Anne, went as lay missionaries to Nigeria.
Bobby was also actively involved in voluntary housing activities in the 1930s to provide badly needed accommodation in the Tuam area in particular. In keeping with his compassion for his fellow man, Bobby donated Toghermore House to the Government, originally as a rehabilitation centre for former TB patients and today it remains in operation as part of the Western Health Board.
Bobby and his wife, Anne, spent most of their lives working on behalf of those less well off than themselves, particularly in West Africa. I know their efforts have been greatly appreciated by those who have benefited.
On behalf of the House and the Fianna Fáil Party, I wish to convey my deepest sympathy to Bobby's wife, Anne, his daughter, Patricia, and family and to those in the Labour Party who have lost a very esteemed member. Go ndeanaí Dia trócaire ar a anam.