Death of Jo Cox, MP: Expressions of Sympathy

The shooting dead of Jo Cox, MP, was an appalling crime against a public representative. A mother of two young children who should have been celebrating her 42nd birthday tomorrow with her husband Brendan and their children, Jo Cox was a talented and dedicated politician with a very bright political future in front of her. The outpouring of grief and dismay at her murder gave a strong indication of the kind of politician, public servant, humanitarian, friend, daughter, wife and mother that she was. To her family, her husband Brendan and their two young children, I know I have the full support of the House and the Seanad in expressing my sincerest and deepest sympathy. This was an attack on our democratic values. Public representatives have to be able to go about their public duty and their constituency duty free from harassment and assault. I dearly hope that such violence will not be repeated.

I had spoken to a group in Liverpool when the message came through that Jo Cox had been shot on the street just a short distance away. In her House of Commons maiden speech she had made the point that immigrants to Great Britain, including Irish Catholics, had added greatly to the depth and the strength of personality of the people in the area. In her own words, she said: "we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us." Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a hanam.

On my behalf and on behalf of my party, I wish to express our deepest sympathy to the family, community and political colleagues of Jo Cox, MP. The murder of a public representative in a democracy is, thankfully, a very rare and shocking event. It is extremely important that we condemn what has happened, but also reflect on it. Quite clearly, the British Labour Party has lost a rising star, a person who was passionate and independent in mind and spirit, who, through her short life, made an extraordinary contribution before she entered politics through international affairs and through Oxfam. She had a deep, passionate commitment to the refugee crisis and the situation in Syria and was a significant critic of the UK's foreign policy and successive British governments' handling of that issue.

I read an article by John Bew in the New Statesman about Jo Cox's political contribution and what an extraordinary individual she was. The article is headed "Jo Cox might be the best foreign secretary Britain never had." That description spoke to her internationalist approach but also her deep passion about international affairs. Bew says, "She was one of those rare people with a deep moral integrity but no interest in grandstanding or moralising herself."

In an era when politics can be debased and there is much disillusion about politics, it is very clear that, in the person of Jo Cox, politics gained somebody who was motivated by the very best interests of public good and community. In many respects, she stood in stark contrast to some of the stereotyping of politicians that can go on in the modern world. It is extremely important that we do not stigmatise politicians. In many ways, politicians are overly stigmatised as a group and that can heighten extreme rhetoric which can lead to the most horrific consequences. Our sympathies are with her husband, Brendan, her family and her wider community on an enormous loss.

Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le fear céile Jo Cox, Brendan, agus lena bpáistí, Lejla agus Cuillin. Bean óg chróga mhacánta ab ea Jo. Tá muid go léir brónach ón uair a chuala muid an scéal dona faoina dúnmharú.

I also extend on my behalf and that of Sinn Féin sincerest sympathy and solidarity to Jo’s husband, Brendan, and her two young children, Lejla and Cuillin. I also want to extend solidarity to my friend, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who has lost a talented, hardworking and gifted colleague, to Jo’s constituents and her many colleagues in the British Parliament. Jo Cox was a remarkable young woman. She would have celebrated her 42nd birthday tomorrow. She had been elected to the British Parliament only a year ago but was recognised as a dedicated activist, as a very articulate advocate for her constituency and for those issues that were important to her.

She especially made her mark fighting for the rights of refugees in Syria and those tens of thousands crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. She was also a committed campaigner on behalf of the people of Palestine, a compassionate defender of human rights, a believer in equality for women and a fierce opponent of racism, intolerance and injustice wherever they existed. Her murder is a devastating blow to her family and colleagues but also to the British political system agus go ndéana Dia trócaire uirthi.

As others did last week, I travelled with Deputy Sherlock to Liverpool to campaign in the United Kingdom for the people of Britain to vote to remain part of the EU. During the day, like the Taoiseach, we met with Irish community groups, business leaders and the ordinary people of Liverpool going about their normal day’s work. The sun shone for a while. It also rained. It was like a normal day at home.

As one would expect during a campaign like that, some people agreed with us, others did not. While we were there Jo Cox, a Labour MP, was shot and stabbed in Birstall, just 70 miles from where we were campaigning. Word came through to the two British Labour MPs who were with us, and the British Labour MEP, who knew Jo extremely well as a friend and colleague, that she had died. It was very emotional. Jo was 41 years old, a wife, a parent of two young children, a lifelong campaigner for Labour values and it was for her campaigning, because she was in politics, that she was killed. She will live long in all our memories now, including those of us who never heard of Jo before that day. She will inspire us to redouble our efforts to combat extremism and hatred in all their forms. We can have very strong views in our political lives but we should have those views within the boundaries of decency. That is the inspirational message that Jo Cox has left with us. May she rest in peace.

On behalf of People Before Profit and the Anti-Austerity Alliance, I extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to Jo Cox’s husband, Brendan, her two children and all her family and friends.

Jo's murder was an utterly vile and obnoxious act which must be condemned outright. British politics and the Labour Party in Britain have suffered the loss of a champion of progressive causes.

At the time of her death, Jo was preparing a report for the British Parliament on the rise of Islamophobia and aggressive nationalist politics, and the need to challenge them. She had also produced a report on the plight of Palestinian people in Gaza and the need to lift the blockade of Gaza. From the very first day she entered the British Parliament, she spoke out about the need to oppose racism and welcome and acknowledge the contribution of refugees and immigrants in Britain, whether Irish Catholics, Muslims or any other nationality. She was clearly a subscriber to the view that I and, I hope, everybody holds, namely, that there is only one race in the world, the human race. Jo Cox clearly subscribed to that view. It is a shocking wake-up call for us about the dangers of the growth of far-right, racist and anti-immigrant sentiment right across Europe.

We do not know the exact circumstances or reasons for her killing, but evidence is mounting that the person who was apprehended was associated with some of the fascist far-right in Europe. Whatever our differences on questions of the European Union or policy, in the aftermath of Jo's death we all have to show the strongest united front against racism, intolerance and prejudice in the way that Jo Cox did throughout her life. Her husband Brendan committed in the aftermath of the shooting to fighting the hatred that killed Jo, and we should all commit to that battle in the aftermath of her tragic murder.

The murder of Jo Cox, MP, was completely and utterly senseless. A person going about her work was attacked and executed in a brutal and horrific way - her killing was an execution. It goes against everything we believe in in a democracy, namely, the right to free speech, protest, different opinions and respect for difference. It is very hard to believe that there could be somebody with such hatred that he could take it out on a person who has been a voice for those suffering through being refugees. She has been robbed of her potential to do even more. I am conscious that she is not alone. As we stand here today, other parliamentarians in different parts of the world have also been murdered, are subject to violence or are in jail because of their political views. I extend heartfelt sympathy to her family, community and political party.

On behalf of the rural independent group, I want to express our sincerest sympathies to Jo Cox's husband, Brendan, her extended family and her party. This is a grotesque attack on democracy. That a respectable elected parliamentarian who was going about her business in a respectful and respectable fashion was gunned down in this type of horror attack is an absolute attack on the democracy that we all hold so dear. Every one of us is outraged.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for facilitating the signing of the book of condolences in the House. The decision was very thoughtful, proper, right and dignified. When I signed my name this morning, I looked at the picture and could see the brightness in her eyes and her appreciation of life.

One could see she was full of energy and determination. It was an outrageous attack on democracy that a young life like that - a young mother, a daughter, a wife - could be taken from her family, community and the people she represented.

There is a lesson to be learned. I say this in particular to the ladies that are elected to this House. There is one thing I have spotted over a period and it is about time it was put to bed once and for all. Nobody in this House, male or female, should be subjected to vile abuse. That is happening increasingly and it is growing legs. We can all have our political differences. I can object and have a political argument with a man or woman in this House about any issue. I do not care who one is or where one comes from, but under no circumstances should anybody be subjected to vile abuse.

I have noted on social media in particular in the past 24 months that the ladies who are elected to this House have been subjected to outrageous things. I have often had differences of opinion with a political colleague of mine, Deputy Joan Burton, but I do not agree with what she was subjected to. It was outrageous. We must stop that sort of nonsense.

We must unite in standing up for ourselves. If we do not stand up for ourselves, no one else will. The situation culminated in that horrific attack the other day and it should not be tolerated in a civilised society. I speak on behalf of the Rural Technical Group. We feel very strongly about this. We must stand up against this sort of thing once and for all.

Everybody in this country, both within this House and outside, was shocked to the core last Thursday afternoon when we heard of the appalling and senseless death of Jo Cox. By all accounts she was a parliamentarian with huge potential and a very bright future ahead of her. It is quite clear from all of the comments that have been made since her death that she was hugely admired and respected by all of her constituents and her colleagues in Westminster.

The Taoiseach quoted earlier from Jo Cox's maiden speech in Westminster last year. She made the point that while we celebrate diversity we have far more that unites us than divides us. The most fitting tribute we can pay to her is to be mindful of that fact in all of our dealings as parliamentarians. On behalf of the Social Democrats I extend our deepest sympathy to the husband, children and wider family of Jo Cox and to the wider British Labour Party family as well.

On behalf of the Independent Alliance, I wish to offer my sympathy to Brendan and his two children on this horrific murder. When I first heard about the attack, I was totally shocked and disgusted that a young MP, a mother, was murdered in such a way coming out of her constituency clinic. It was absolutely horrific. First, a young woman was murdered. Second, a young mother left two lovely children and a husband behind. It was an absolutely appalling crime. Third, from our point of view, an elected politician was murdered. We all immediately identified with the fact that she was coming out of her clinic after trying to help people. As Members of the Oireachtas, we can identify with Jo as a Member of Parliament.

We all know about her strong humanitarian work, her fantastic work in respect of Syria and her amazing work with refugees. A number of colleagues referred above all to her constant campaigning against racism. That is something about which we should all be very vigilant. From what was said by some Opposition Members of the British Parliament, Jo Cox also had a great ability to work cross-party on issues.

To the Labour Party, its sister Labour Party in Ireland and its leader, Deputy Brendan Howlin, on behalf of the Independent Alliance I offer our most sincere sympathy. Life is precious and this is a reminder to us all that despite differences, one must be vigilant and must stand up to protect the dignity of and to have respect for politicians. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, also is a great man of peace and was a great friend of Ireland in respect of our peace process and Members should never forget that. I again offer my deepest sympathy on behalf of the Independent Alliance.

Last Thursday was a breaking point. It was breaking point on Thursday morning, when that poster was presented by the head of UKIP, Nigel Farage, which appeared simply to be picking on the fears that exist in Britain on the issue of migration and to be using them to try to get a certain vote in the referendum, which will take place next Thursday. While Nigel Farage stated yesterday that it was not influential in what the assassin ended up doing that lunchtime, all Members are aware that the environment to which Deputy Michael Healy-Rae makes reference is created in part by what all of them say. As the Deputy stated, all Members should commit to considering that issue and to trying to unpick that fear. They should make sure it does not arise and develop in our country to avoid witnessing the creation of that same political environment of fear. Members should do that in honour of Jo Cox.

More than anything else, I also thought of the 77 year old retired miner who went to her aid and, from his name, I can only presume he comes from that Irish Yorkshire migrant tradition. Members should remember his bravery and that there are people in society who at the age of 77 will step in to try to save another life. More than anything else, Members think of the husband and, in particular, the two children of Jo Cox because for them it was a breaking point like no other. Members' thoughts and prayers are with them today.

Members rose.