Tributes to Member of Staff

I pay tribute to Mr. Shay Byrne, Head Usher, who retires today having served the Houses and Members for 38 years. He began his career in Leinster House in April 1973 and has served with ten different Seanads since. He has always been dedicated, reliable and extremely committed to ensure the highest level of service to all Members. Shay has always been a friendly face in Leinster House. I recall being greeted by Shay in the inquiries office when I first came here and he has always had a cheerful word.

A key element of Shay's career has been his complete loyalty to Leinster House and his obliging personality and attitude that it was never too much trouble to sort out a problem. I have always heard it said from staff and Members that one can just ask Shay and he will sort it out.

In 2005 Shay was appointed Head Usher, a testament to his ability and dedication to his work. He has adapted to the changes and the environment in the Houses and has taken on board all the new duties and services which arose from the development of the Houses and the committee structure. I wish Shay, his wife Geraldine and his son and daughter, James and Rachel, the very best for the future in a happy and healthy retirement.

I have the very pleasant duty of seconding the Cathaoirleach's best wishes to Mr. Shay Byrne on his retirement after nearly 40 years of service in Leinster House. As Head Usher he retires with all the good will and best wishes that the Members of the House can offer. Shay came to the House as a service attendant in April 1973, when the Cosgrave Government was in office. He has the distinction of serving under eight Taoisigh, which is a remarkable record, and I do not know if many other Members of the Houses or staff have held such a record. There may have been two colleagues in Dáil Éireann who did so. Shay later joined the ranks of the ushers and spent many years in the inquiries office, where he was always the gentleman and extremely courteous and helpful to us. For the past five years he has been our Head Usher and his hard work and commitment have made him an invaluable asset to the smooth running of Leinster House. I know I speak for all when I say Shay and his light-hearted banter, which he conducted on a daily basis, will be missed.

Although he is retiring I know we will see Shay again, probably at the next golf outing. On behalf of all sides of the House I congratulate him on his retirement, although he is still a young man, and I hope he will enjoy many wonderful trips to Old Trafford to see his favourite team, Manchester United, and cheer them on as it wins another cup. I wish him, his wife and family all the happiness and good health for the future and acknowledge the great contribution he has made to helping all Members of the Oireachtas in his 40 years of service in Leinster House.

On my own behalf and that of Fine Gael, I wish Shay the very best for the future. He has had a bird's-eye view of Irish political history over four decades and he has watched those of us on temporary contracts coming and going. No doubt he will have many stories to tell because I have often seen his face in the background of many of those prominent photographs taken of people exiting these Houses, sometimes in joy and sometimes in sorrow. There is no doubt that Shay has copies of the photographs.

In my time in this House I have admired in Shay and many of his colleagues the quiet efficiency in the way they go about their work and the way they treat us and everybody else coming through the House. In those years I have found Shay a man of very few words but he has a very friendly way of dealing with people. He gives a sense of confidence when he meets with people and in recognition of that, we will not give a long and flowery speech because that is not the type of man he is. I wish him and his family the very best for the future and I hope he enjoys retirement.

The measure of how well a person does his or her job is how easy he or she makes it look. On behalf of the Independent benches I say go raibh míle maith agat as ucht do chuid oibre ar feadh dhá scór bliain anois and it is very much appreciated. Shay has dealt courteously over the years with those of us who have only rented seats in these two Houses.

I often saw Shay going about his business and he was here long before I came here. He reminds me of the poem about the river which goes "For men may come and men may go/But I go on forever". He is calling a halt to it now. I speak for myself and my colleagues when I say his time here has always been marked by a great level of courtesy, calmness and a great sense of dependency. People have felt that if he was asked to do something, one knew immediately if he could or could not do it. He would always deliver.

Shay is also a great example of leadership by example, which is important. Leadership is often destroyed by loud and direct orders, and Shay marked his term as somebody who does his work in a quietly spoken, efficient and effective manner. This has won for him the respect of colleagues, staff and Members of both Houses. This is appreciated and we would like Shay to take away with him the idea that this is how we saw and still see him. That is important.

I have mentioned public servants and service here many times in the past few months. I thank Shay for his diligence as a perfect example of how a public servant should give public service that wins respect from all sides. He has done this very effectively. To paraphrase Gilbert and Sullivan, he is the very model of a modern public servant. To him and his colleague, Liam Lynch, who is also leaving this week, go raibh míle maith agaibh. To Shay, go raibh míle maith agat as ucht do chuid oibre ar ár son agus go n-éirí leat amach anseo.

Those going on a pension should have a list of duties to begin immediately rather than taking two months off. Shay should also ensure he collects the pension for as long he contributed to it.

I join others in paying tribute to Shay Byrne on the occasion of his retirement as Head Usher and on behalf of the Labour group I extend my thanks for the calmness, efficiency and good humour which he brought to his work over many years. I had a very positive experience of Shay's incredible problem-solving skills and can-do approach when I organised a day for former and current women Members of the Oireachtas in the Dáil Chamber when I was not here longer than a year. It was a rather unorthodox event and could not have run as smoothly as it did without the contribution and good will of Shay Byrne and other ushers. I am very grateful to Shay and all of the other ushers for the work they did that day and have done since. In the short time I have been a Member I have come to appreciate how smoothly and efficiently the House runs and how much this is due to the commitment and hard work of the ushers, especially the Head Usher.

I cannot believe Shay has been here for 38 years which is a long time in anyone's book. As other speakers noted, I expect he has many stories to tell, given his bird's eye view and fly-on-the-wall perspective. I am sure there will be plenty of good anecdotes and stories to come during Shay's retirement. I wish him and his family well and hope he will have a long, healthy and happy retirement.

On behalf of the Green Party, I wish to be associated with all of the previous remarks. I wish Shay Byrne every happiness in his retirement. I am sure his family will be pleased to see more of him and have no doubt his quiet presence will enhance his family's home life.

I thank all of the ushers for the manner in which they have ushered me into the life of the Houses. While it has been a very steep learning curve, they have made it much easier by assisting me with simple things such as informing me where things are to matters such as how one conducts oneself in as discreet and diplomatic a manner possible. It is an art form in itself to be present and yet not be and a feat that the ushers, to a man and woman, achieve, no doubt under the leadership and by the example set by senior staff, especially Shay whom I wish well in his retirement.

I join my colleagues in complimenting Shay Byrne on the excellent work he has done in the Houses in the past 40 years. His kindness and efficiency typify the work done by all of the ushers and the manner in which they treat Members. I wish Shay and his family a very happy retirement. May he have many years of enjoyment.

On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, I wish to be associated with the tributes paid to Shay Byrne. The best tribute that could be paid to him is that since I became a Member of the House, I have regarded him as an usher rather than as head usher. That is how efficient and effective he has been. I also pay tribute to Liam Lynch who will leave the service of the Houses on Friday. Two nicer and more decent people one could not meet. I pay tribute to all of the ushers who look after us in an unassuming and professional manner. I wish Shay well in his retirement. After 38 years in the Houses he looks remarkably fresh and young. His family will now have him to themselves.

I pay tribute to the work Shay Byrne has done in the Houses over such a long period. On behalf of all Fine Gael Party Senators, I thank him for his commitment and dedication and the support he has given to Members and the work of the Oireachtas during his time here. His work has been much appreciated by all of us. The quiet efficiency with which he and his colleagues work on our behalf makes a major difference to the smooth running of the Oireachtas and helps us greatly in the performance of our duties. I thank him for his work which Members greatly appreciate, as I am sure he is aware. I extend my best wishes to him in the next phase of his life and hope his retirement is a very happy one for him and his family.

I add my words to those of my colleague in the Whip's office, Senator Wilson, in congratulating Shay Byrne on his retirement. Somehow I do not believe Shay will retire because he is not that type of person. I acknowledge the great co-operation I have received from him since I became a Member of the House. He is courtesy personified.

Shay's recent trip to Tír na nÓg is reflected in his youthful look. I have no doubt we will see plenty of him in the future. As Senator Cassidy noted, he likes to play with a little white ball on the golf links. I suspect he will continue to drive it straight down the fairway and putt it without problems.

Liam Lynch is another very courteous member of the ushers team in the Houses. One of the things that struck me when I entered the House in 1997 was the great courtesy shown by staff at all levels. One could not ask for better and there were no greater exponents of that fine tradition than Shay Byrne and Liam Lynch. I wish Shay the best in his retirement. May he enjoy good health. To echo the remarks of Senator O'Toole, I hope he will draw his pension for as long as he has paid into it. One cannot wish him anything better than this.

I will be brief because previous speakers have expressed the sentiments we all share. I acknowledge how courteous, good humoured and pleasant and efficient Shay has been. We are all very grateful to him for the manner in which he has treated us all and for being highly approachable at all times. He is a perfect gentlemen and has done a great job during the years. I wish him well.

I join colleagues in extending warm thanks to Liam Lynch for his good work. Liam has a distinctive sense of humour and pleasantness. We are blessed with the ushers we have. We should acknowledge their courtesy and helpfulness and ensure we do not take them for granted.

Senator O'Toole expressed the hope Shay would manage to extract from the pension fund as much as he had put into it. Looking over at him, there is every probability he will achieve this.

I join my colleagues in paying tribute to Shay Byrne, not only for his work but also for his pleasantness, good manners, good humour and the generous spirit he has shown to all of us. We should also express our appreciation of the good work done by Liam Lynch who will also retire this week. As Senator O'Reilly stated, Liam's pleasantness and good humour are well known. Given the weather conditions this week, I acknowledge the great work done by all of the ushers and staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas in ensuring the House has been able to run smoothly, especially on the two late nights.

I pay tribute to Shay Byrne and Liam Lynch on their retirement from the Houses and hope both of them will continue to perform other duties. As one of the longest serving Members, I met Shay in 1977 when he was a very young usher. I recall that he used to take at least two holidays in the sun every year. This might have changed when he got married, settled down and had children.

Few of the current Senators, with the exception perhaps of Senator O'Toole, have had their service to the House interrupted for a lengthy period. Even when my appearances were irregular, Shay showed the same courtesy to me as he did when I was re-elected to the House. This applies to all staff of the House. Those few of us who have lost our seats for a period were always treated fantastically by all staff.

A number of other ushers retired recently and I wish them well. I hope they will be replaced. I have never known a period during which so many ushers have left the Houses. Shay is only retiring from his current duties as he is moving to pastures green.

Like other Members, I wish to be associated with the good wishes expressed to Shay, with whom I have shared time in the Houses for 33 years. Both of us have a little more colour in our hair than we had when I arrived in 1977. The one thing I have always found about Shay, as I have found with every member of staff of this House, is the courtesy shown to every Member. If anyone had a complaint, I guarantee it was not the fault of staff but of the Member who would have created the situation. I say that across the board in regard to all staff.

I wish Shay and Liam well. Senator Leyden spoke about when we first came to the House. In those days the number of ushers was much smaller and Shay and his companions had to do much more work in longer hours than are served by staff now. I know it is appropriate to say that staff still perform their full duties but because the complement of ushers was much smaller in those days, they had to cover everything. The leader of the Opposition stated that Shay was a master of photocopying and recycling and suchlike in his early days. To Shay and his wife and family, I say enjoy it. He has made his contribution to this House and this country.

I join in all the good wishes that have been paid to Shay Byrne today, all richly deserved. When I was first elected to this House, I saw nothing but kindness and goodness in Shay Byrne. He helped with whatever one would ask him for, as testified many times this morning in regard to all the ushers and staff of this House. They are second to none.

I join also in the good wishes expressed to Liam Lynch who is retiring. I wish Shay Byrne and his family and Liam Lynch and all associated with him good health, happiness and long life.

I wish Shay the very best of luck.