Tributes to Member of Staff

Before I call the Leader to announce the Order of Business, I wish Mr. Bernard Hand the best of luck on his retirement tomorrow. He has spent more than 20 years around the Houses and his is the face that greets visiting dignitaries to this House. Having served for more than 20 years and been in close contact with him, it has been a joy to watch him work. He has a very friendly face and is always smiling. Nothing is a problem to him, which is the reason he is a team leader and has got on so well with everybody in the House.

Bernard is a great GAA man. He played for Trinity Gaels in Dublin.

Will the Cathaoirleach, please, repeat that?

He played for Trinity Gaels. After his playing career, he was a well known referee for nearly 20 years on the Dublin senior championship circuit. He also refereed inter-county matches. He played football with O'Connell Boys GAA Club with the famous Paddy Cullen who was heard to say Bernard was one of the best he had ever played with. I remember when a famous Dublin footballer from the 1960s, who now lives in Castlebar, arrived at the inquiry desk in Leinster House. Bernard was the first to welcome Brian McDonald. Nobody else recognised him as he had not been seen much since the 1960s, but he was delighted when Bernard recognised him.

We wish Bernard well in his retirement. He will now have plenty of time to spend with his wife and family for the next 20 years and more. It has been a great pleasure to work with him in Leinster House. On behalf of all Members and the staff, we wish him well and hope he will have a long and healthy retirement.

May he make a speech?

I join the Cathaoirleach in wishing Mr. Bernard Hand well in his retirement. Like all of his usher colleagues, he treats all Members and their guests with respect and dignity. We are grateful to all of the ushers. Bernard has been a wonderful person to everybody in the House for many years. I wish him well in his retirement.