Death of Senator.

Since this House met a fortnight ago, a familiar figure has been taken from amongst us. Senators learned with shocked surprise of the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Senator William Quirke. At that meeting, the late Senator was in attendance in his usual robust health.

Senator Quirke was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1931 until its abolition in 1936. When the Seanad was reconstituted in 1938, he was elected a member on the Agricultural Panel and served either as Leader of the House or as Leader of the Opposition until his death.

William Quirke was a man of outstanding personality, great-hearted and gay, a true friend and devoted comrade. He was a vigorous politician, firm and faithful in his own principles and beliefs, but he never allowed his politics to mar his personal relationships.

He loved Ireland well and was prominently identified with the military side of the movement for independence. But his interests and activities extended also to other spheres. He was a businessman, keenly alive to anything which would make for the economic advancement of the State. He was a pioneer in the development of the Irish bogs and was at an early stage a director of the Turf Development Board. He was also a member of the Agricultural Credit Corporation and of the Racing Board. But it was in the bloodstock industry that his greatest interest lay. He was a member of the Council of the Bloodstock Association of Ireland —the body which nominated him to the Seanad and whose effective spokesman he always was.

For some years prior to his death, Senator Quirke resided in Dublin but he remained to the end a countryman and above all a Tipperary man. For a period he was Mayor of Clonmel and helped in many directions to further the development of that town.

He had an important role to play at all times in the Seanad and acquitted himself well with unfailing good humour. The House and its development owe much to him. He served on nearly every one of our committees and in committee he was always helpful and co-operative.

The late Senator had a varied and colourful career and his speeches had freshness, precision and well-marshalled thought. It is true to say that, though he could be forthright and hard-hitting, he had no malice. His loss will be keenly felt by all members of the House.

Though it is to some extent a break with tradition, I think it is appropriate that I should add my voice to what you, Sir, have said. I first met Senator Quirke in 1938 when this House was reconstituted, and, owing to our respective positions, ever since then I was necessarily in constant contact with him on matters concerning the business of the Seanad. For the greater part of that period, he was Leader of the House and I was Leader of the Opposition. We changed places twice, but the change of position made no difference to our personal relationships.

The late Senator was easy to talk to and what is much rarer, he was easy to argue with, and between us in that period we never, I think, had a harsh word. The reason was that Senator Quirke was genuinely anxious that the business of the House should be fixed and arranged as far as possible, so as to facilitate not only what one might call the Government side and the Opposition, but other groups and even other individuals as well. I always found him clear, direct and understanding, and any arrangement which he made with me, any undertaking he gave, he always carried out as far as he could.

He had strongly held political opinions, but that did not prevent him from viewing the Seanad as a House and he always was desirous of maintaining our standards and of seeing that the minority, no less than the majority, should enjoy its rights. To that attitude of his, as you, Sir, have said, I think we owe to a very great extent the smooth way in which the Seanad has worked and also the good feeling which has prevailed for the past 17 years amongst its members.

The late Senator Quirke was apt of speech, but he had a saving sense of humour that enabled him to maintain many personal friendships with people who differed from him. The Seanad as such has suffered a loss by the untimely death of our friend, Senator Quirke, and I, who was in such intimate contact with him for all the period of our membership here, feel his loss in a very personal way.

Guidmíd solus na bhFlathas agus radharc na Trionóide dá anam.

I know that it is the wish of the House that I should convey this message of sympathy to the widow and children of Senator Quirke.

Senators rose in their places.