Death of President Roosevelt—Adjournment of Dáil.

Friday, 13 April 1945

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 96 No. 19

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The Taoiseach: Information on Eamon de Valera  Zoom on Eamon de Valera  I wish to move the Adjournment of the Dáil as a mark of respect and of sympathy with the American people on the death of their President. We have very special reasons for sympathising with the American people, so many of whom are of our own blood, and we should like to let them know from this House how deeply we sympathise with them in the loss of their great Leader who has led them successfully through so many trials.

President Roosevelt will go down to history as one of the greatest of a long line of American Presidents with the unparalleled distinction of having been elected four times as head of the United States. That was the greatest tribute that could be paid to any man. It is also a measure of his loss. Personally I regard his death as a loss to the world for I believe his whole career had shown that he could ultimately be depended upon when this war had ended to throw his great influence behind and devote his great energy to the establishment of a world organisation which would be just and which being just could hope to save humanity from recurring calamities like the present war.

We should like also to express our deep sympathy with President Roosevelt's family to which he was so deeply attached.

[2038] Guidhim trócaire Dé ar a anam agus go dtuga Sé sólás dá mhuintir.

General Mulcahy: Information on Richard James Mulcahy  Zoom on Richard James Mulcahy  I wish to associate myself very sincerely with the resolution of sympathy with the people of the United States on the death of their President. We offer sympathy, in the first place, to the people of the United States as a whole. There is no one in this country who will not extend sympathy also to those who, as political leaders in the world or military leaders in the world, have been associated with him in the discharge of the enormous world responsibilities both of their own people and of the world. We sympathise with humanity as a whole that, in such an hour for the world as this, such a striking loss should befall them. Our sympathy goes out to a very wide circle of people who need and deserve sympathy in this great loss.

When we pass from sympathy, we think of mourning. In the circumstances of to-day and in view of what we have seen of the President's achievements, we must feel that the manifestation of prowess in his person and in his actions is so striking that we cannot associate mourning with his memory. A few years ago, a very distracted people looked round the world to see where they could get help, guidance and assistance in the shocking tragedies befalling the world. They looked for hope to a great nation, which was an amalgam of the various peoples of the world, where, in a spirit of liberty, a spirit of appreciation of the dignity of the human person, men had learned to work together towards their ideals. That nation, to which the world looked at that particular time for hope, threw up its man to be the very personification of their strength, their ideal, their patience and their humanity.

[2039] Though we may regard his work to-day as unfinished, when we look back to-morrow we will realise that President Roosevelt's work was a complete achievement. He was destined to lead his country in the third great national crisis that his people had—the first being the war of Independence and the second the Civil War. Now his nation has met a third great crisis, which has brought it into the full stream of world affairs, world thought and leadership. We thank God to-day for the manifestation of His Providence, which has given us and given the world such a man and in such circumstances. President Roosevelt has embodied in his person the patience, the courage, the endurance, the smiling humanity that we learn now can grow where there is love of liberty and appreciation of the dignity of the human personality. In the days immediately in front of us his loss will be great, but the nation that, in its strength and in its ideals, threw up a man to lead and guide itself and to assist the world in the difficulties that we have been going through and that are passing, will, from the same strength, from the same patience and the same ideals, throw up the necessary men to deal with its own problems to-morrow and be of assistance and guidance to us all.

In this country, we have a very fundamental unity of thought and feeling with the liberty-loving and democratic-spirited people of the United States. We have particularly to benefit by the example we have had in the spirit of the United States in recent years. Yesterday, President Roosevelt belonged to his own nation. To-day, he belongs to all of us and, particularly, to those people who believe in human destiny and have a deep sense of religion and a deep love of liberty. He [2040] belongs to all those individual men and women who wish to work out their destiny according to the gifts and personality bestowed on them by Providence, so that they may do their own duty here in this world and help one another.

We sympathise with the people of the United States and with all humanity to-day, with all those who look for help and guidance, for courage and assistance; but I think that we here, instead of mourning, praise God that, through the personality of President Roosevelt, He has manifested to us what men can be and what men can do, who love liberty, who appreciate the dignity of humanity and who are prepared to do their work for themselves, for their country and for the world, inspired by a deep spirit of religion.

Mr. Norton: Information on William Norton  Zoom on William Norton  I desire to be associated with the vote of sympathy to the people of the United States and to the family of the late President Roosevelt, which has been proposed by the Taoiseach. In his mind, in his heart, in the character of his speeches and in his sense of human and spiritual values, the late President Roosevelt was the incarnation of those qualities which have been the outstanding characteristics of the people of the great United States.

The late President Roosevelt has been privileged to live in a generation of great men, of men whose names are indelibly associated with the history of the past generation and of this generation; but President Roosevelt was a giant even in a generation of great men, whose names will probably live forever.

Many of us will remember that, some years ago, when a terrific economic blizzard swept the United States, [2041] President Roosevelt assumed command of what was then a very serious situation. He rallied his people to fight that economic holocaust. By means of his policy of a New Deal, he was able to give his people hope and courage and enthusiasm to fight against the blizzards which then threatened to destroy the entire economic fabric of the United States. But he was able to do more: he was able to make secure for the plain people of the United States, the people whose heart pulsated with his heart, whose mind was attuned to his mind, that heritage of freedom and economic security of which an unbridled financial capitalism then sought to deprive them.

President Roosevelt has now passed to his reward, mourned by struggling humanity everywhere. He is mourned especially by the people of Ireland, who remember with gratitude the magnificent support which the people of the United States have always given to this small nation in its centuries-old struggle for liberty and freedom.

If service to one's fellows be a man's title deeds to human gratitude, the name of President Roosevelt will be remembered forever by the liberty loving peoples of the world. It will be revered wherever men and women struggle for liberty in a political sense and revered, too, wherever men and women struggle to dispel the gloom of insecurity and strive for the high road of economic security.

Mr. Donnellan: Information on Michael Donnellan  Zoom on Michael Donnellan  Very little has been left for me to say on this matter, but I want to associate myself with the motion before the House. No doubt about it, out from our own country the sympathy of the Irish people goes to our people in, I might say, the other Ireland beyond the sea. In this case, when we realise, whatever our opinions [2042] may be as regards the war or otherwise, that our Irish people under the Presidency of the late President of the United States, were working and have worked in that nation, I think it will be felt that the ruler of the United States of America comes nearer in life to our Irish people than the ruler of any other State—just as near to us, probably, as the ruler of our own State. Nearest to the President of our own country comes the President of the United States of America, because, in the United States, thousands of our kith and kin live and work and fight for that country.

The one great loss, in my opinion—I agree with the Taoiseach, the greatest loss of all—in the death of President Roosevelt at the moment lies in that he more than any other ruler in the world realised what the smaller nations meant to the world, and it was my belief and, mind you, I seriously believed it, that when this war would be over President Roosevelt would set up, or cause to be set up, in this distracted world of ours a peace that would be lasting, because he realised what the smaller nations meant. I believe he would have called the smaller nations together, and I believe that he, God rest his soul, would be responsible, if he had lived, more than anybody else for giving to this world the peace for which it has looked—a peace that would last not for 20 years or for a generation but for many generations to come. I agree with the Taoiseach, and I sincerely believe it, that that is the greatest loss of all.

There is no doubt, as Deputy Norton has pointed out, that when President Roosevelt came into control of the United States in 1932, that country was in a terrible economic condition and in the depths of a great depression. Nevertheless, he carried [2043] his people through. He had the loyalty of our Irish people there. They were loyal to the Government of that country and its President at that time, just as they were loyal in other spheres of life later on. As I said at the beginning, next to our own President, without doubt, is the President of the United States, because no President, other than our own, rules as many of our Irish people as does [2044] the President of that greater Ireland beyond the sea. I wish to associate myself with the Taoiseach and the other speakers, and all I have to say is, may God have mercy on his soul, and I hope that to-day he belongs to Our Eternal Redeemer.

Deputies stood in their places.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.55 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 18th April, 1945.


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