On my own behalf and that of my party, I wish to express sympathy on the death of a former Cathaoirleach of the House, Mr. Seán Doherty. Our thoughts are with his widow, Maura, and his daughters Rachel, Leah, Evelyn and Cara.
We are all aware of the strong and sometimes turbulent career of Seán Doherty. I was aware of it, in particular, because he was from the neighbouring constituency. I knew him very well from an early age and I followed his career with great interest. Over the past week, there has been widespread comment and coverage of all matters relating to what I might call the turbulent period of his life, although I do not intend to dwell on that. There has been a lot of useless twittering in the newspapers by people who are not full journalists but have chosen to act out with high drama various episodes of that period. They have their own reasons for doing that and it is quite apparent why they are doing so.
I know Maura Doherty very well and regret that, due to parliamentary business abroad, I was unable either to attend the funeral, the removal or the family home. I hope to rectify that, however, next weekend. Maura Doherty is a very intelligent and clever woman. She and Seán had a good married life together. They have four lovely daughters, one of whom is a member of Roscommon County Council. They are fine young women — fiery, spirited and intelligent. Seán and Maura did a great job in rearing their family.
I would prefer to dwell on the latter period of Seán's life from 1997 to 2002 when he chaired the Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport, which dealt with matters relating to my Department when I was Minister for Public Enterprise. He was outstanding in that position, although he has not been given credit for that work. He was also a member of the Committee of Public Accounts. He devoted much time to the Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport, which dealt with a large volume of legislation covering the electricity, gas and railway sectors. He was always well briefed and carried out his duties as chairman in an excellent manner.
In addition, he chaired the sub-committee on the mini-CTC inquiry through which he made great strides in his investigations. It was a source of great regret to him that just as the sub-committee was about to unfold it all, the courts pulled it, judging that the sub-committee did not have the right to proceed with what it was doing. I happen to know that, in that period, he had uncovered quite a lot of information. He acted with the greatest of decorum and probity in that respect. In undertaking that kind of work he gave full expression to public service by employing highly intelligent skills and a fine brain. I remember him with great affection from that period. I wish to put that on the record because so many other periods of his turbulent life have been highlighted, yet his public service record — particularly in committee work — has not.
I have a great knowledge of his work for his constituency and his community. People responded after his death with a sense of community pride in the man they regarded as their own, a man who had served them with great diligence and devotion. We will not see his likes again because, for whatever reason, such people are not entering public life or remaining in it. Seán was a remarkable man because his sheer intelligence was often not obvious to all commentators. That is why we currently have so much useless twittering by people with a vested interest in making such remarks. That story is for another day.
I offer the sincere sympathy of the House to the family of this former Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. He was a very fine Cathaoirleach, as is clear from the legislation he oversaw in the House during his time here. He took great pride in his job, as does the current Cathaoirleach, and brought great acumen to it. The world will sorely miss the likes of Seán Doherty. We offer our sympathy to his wife, Maura, to his four daughters, to his wider family of brothers, sisters and cousins and to the communities of Cootehall and Roscommon.