I pay tribute to the memory of the late Deputy Des Foley. When most of us heard the news of his death as a result of a heart attack at the age of 54, someone who had been throughout his life an outstanding sportsman, who had kept himself in good physical condition and who was in every sense a man of good health, it reminded us of our mortality. On behalf of the Government and my party, I convey to his wife, Rita, his family and all those in north County Dublin who will miss him so much our deepest sympathy.
Des Foley was both a fine sportsman and politician. As a sportsman and member of St. Vincent's, he captained the Dublin team which won the All-Ireland in 1963 and was a member of the last Dublin team to reach an All-Ireland hurling final in 1961. On St. Patrick's Day 1962 he won Railway Cup medals in both football and hurling. I do not believe any other player has achieved such a feat.
It is fair to say that if Des Foley got a great deal out of Gaelic games, in his latter years he put an even greater amount back into the games. His commitment and support for clubs in his native area right up until the end of his life are well known. He and his brother, Lar, were constant in their work to promote the games among young people in their area.
He was also a fine politician. It is worth recalling that he took a stand on principle and lost his party's whip because he stood for his beliefs. This is not an easy thing to do and certainly it does not assist anyone in their political career but he believed sufficiently sincerely in the issues on which he took a stand at that time and paid a large political price. He served as Fianna Fáil Deputy between 1965-71 and sought reelection in 1973.
I ask Members of the House to remember him in their prayers and convey on behalf of Fine Gael and the Government our deepest sympathy to the Fianna Fáil Party on the loss of a loyal member and all his family and friends for the void that has now opened up in their lives.