Before calling on Members to offer their tributes to our two departed former colleagues, I would like to welcome the families of Paddy Harte and Monica Barnes to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, including Paddy's widow, Rosaleen; his sons, Paddy, Garrett, Emmett and Jimmy; his daughters Mary, Anne and Róisín; and Jimmy's wife. So too, is Monica's daughter Sarah and her granddaughter Ailbhe. You are all very welcome. This is a sad day for you all but I hope that the support and memories that are shared here in Leinster House will serve to support you as we pay tribute to two much respected and distinguished former Members.
Paddy Harte often tilled a lonely piece of rugged Donegal furrow in his search for dialogue and lasting peace on our island. He was a generous public representative and a man of political courage and determination, often going against the political grain to extend the hand of friendship across a divided land. We often forget how many sacrifices, ideological, philosophical and political had to made in the long barb-strewn path to peace on this troubled land. Paddy Harte walked a step ahead of history and we owe him a debt of thanks for the courageous use of his role as a legislator to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of Irish men and Irish women. It is particularly good to see Paddy's son, Jimmy, with us here today.
Monica Barnes represented Dún Laoghaire for many years, but also typified a long and distinguished tradition within Fine Gael of social activism and progressive practical steps to better the lives of men, women and children both in her south Dublin constituency and nationally. I have spoken on a number of occasions this year at events marking 100 years since women's suffrage. This right was won a mere four generations ago, which is shocking to remember. The right to place a democratic mark on the ballot paper was won with a struggle not given generously by the men of 1918. With dignity and tenacity, Monica carried on that struggle to see a fairer, more equal society, not only for women but for all Irish citizens. Like Paddy, she often argued causes which did not have full or popular support at the time that she served in this Chamber but the strength of her conviction, coupled with the warmth of her personality and willingness to engage with all sides of the House, ensured that she was respected for her views and listened to by all, even those who differed radically with her. It is a real strength of character to be able to disagree agreeably. She was a skilled parliamentarian, fighting for many causes. Personally, I think her greatest testament will be to continue the fight begun in 1918 when Countess Markievicz was elected to the House of Commons in Westminster and took her seat instead in the first Dáil. That work continues but we remember today Monica's crucial role in the fight for a better Ireland.
Both Paddy and Monica served this House with distinction and fortitude. As Ceann Comhairle, I offer my renewed condolences to their families, who should take great comfort in the patriotism shown by both Paddy and Monica.