Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy.

Tuesday, 5 November 2002

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 556 No. 3

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Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Paddy Hegarty was a man who came to politics, not for what he could get out of it, but rather for what he could do for the families of east Cork and, by extension, the people of his native county and country. As a farmer from Cloyne who was completely unpretentious, he took the business of Fine Gael and this House seriously. He took himself lightly which stood him in fine stead with party and parliamentary colleagues on all sides of the House.

Paddy Hegarty was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the then constituency of Cork North-East, now Cork East, in 1973 and served the people and the House until 1989 with passion, dignity, pride and humour. In keeping with the ethos of Fine Gael, he always put the national interest over private or party interest and, as Minister of State at the Departments of Agriculture and Industry and Commerce, was diligent and committed to his responsibilities.

Paddy Hegarty was passionate about politics which, coming from east Cork, made him equally passionate about the land, farming and farming folk. He believed utterly in the connection of the people with the land and, in turn, in the land's [508] innate ability to repair and restore. To walk his own land was one of his enduring pleasures. It simply made sense to him.

Paddy Hegarty's funeral last Sunday was one of celebration. People came from all over the country to pay their respects to a fine public servant, kind neighbour and good friend. His funeral was a celebration. Humour was endemic in all his activities.

For newer Members, he could give an abject lesson in authority and the use of power. In 1976 he made a stirring address to the Ballymacoda Fine Gael branch. He opened the meeting with a ten minute speech. The week afterwards he said to me he was up against Dick Barry who had been elected in 1954. After his stirring address, the veteran, Dick Barry, addressed the meeting by saying that when he was leaving Leinster House a hand had caught him by the arm. It was the then Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave. He said he wanted to send a special message to the people of Ballymacoda. Paddy Hegarty said he could not do anything except to continue.

He truly excelled as a father and as a husband. He will be a great loss to his wife, Eileen, and to his five sons and two daughters. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. An fhad agus a bhí sé anseo, d'oibrigh sé go dian ar son mhuintir Chorcaigh agus is dócha go ndearnadh sé a dhícheall an t-am ar fad anseo agus ina chondae dúchais.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party and on my behalf, I extend my deepest sympathy to Deputy Kenny and to the Fine Gael Party on the death of Paddy Hegarty last Thursday. I remember him as a Member of the House. He was an active, decent and committed person, as Deputy Kenny said. He was a nice person to meet and to talk to. I recall him as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture. I extend my sympathy and that of my colleagues to his wife, Eileen, his daughters, Kathleen and Eileen, his sons, Peadair, Niall, Philip, Richard and Padraig, his two religious sisters and his brother, Dick.

He was born and educated in Cork. He worked through the political system in east Cork. He was a founder member and director of Cork Foods and vice-chairman of the Beet Growers Association. I recall him being deeply involved in farming activities. Like many Members on my side of the House, he was involved in Macra na Feirme. He was also a member of the Irish Farmers' Association. I recall in the early days of the social partnership process he made many comments about the farming lobby. He also raised that issue in the House. He was elected for Cork East in 1973 and served until 1989. He gave good service to the House.

Paddy was also a member of Cork County Council for many years before that. As Fine Gael spokesman for agriculture and tourism and as Minister of State with special responsibility for agricultural production, he served his constituents, his party and the people of the country well. [509] He was also in the Department of Industry and Commerce during the 1986-87 period. He served in a number of Departments as a result of his expertise.

I join with Deputy Kenny and Members of the House in extending our sympathy to his wife, Eileen, and to his sons and daughters. I extend the sympathy of the Fianna Fáil Party to his family for the excellent service he gave in both east Cork and nationally. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  On behalf of the Labour Party and on my behalf, I join in the message of sympathy to Deputy Kenny and the Fine Gael Party on the recent death of former Deputy, Paddy Hegarty. I did not know him well as I only met him two or three times. I recall him as a decent and reserved man and a diligent public representative. I take this opportunity to extend our sincere sympathy to his wife and family and to Fine Gael.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  I want to be associated with the words of sympathy to the members of the Fine Gael Party and to the family of Paddy Hegarty. I only had a brief acquaintance with him as a Member of the House between 1987 and 1989. He showed me kindness and courtesy on every occasion, although he had more experience than I had as he was closing a 16 year period of service to the State. We should not forget that in addition to all the service to his own locality, he served as the chairman of the Council of Europe's fisheries committee from 1979 to 1982. He served democracy not merely on this island but on the Continent. On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I extend our sympathy to his wife, his sons and daughters and to the Fine Gael Party. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Thar cheann an Comhaontais Glas ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir Paddy Hegarty, lena bhean chéile, Eileen, lena cúigear mac agus lena beirt iníon.

On behalf of the Green Party nationally and particularly in Cork, and on behalf of Deputy Boyle, I extend my sympathy to the family of the late Paddy Hegarty. Many of us in the House may have known of him, but we did not serve with him. He is remembered as someone who served as Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture between 1982 and 1987. He was part of the considerable work which was done at that time and which still needs to be done in terms of representing the interests of Irish agriculture. I hope his memory and the energy he brought to his work will be an inspiration to those who must grapple with the difficulties and severe problems in agriculture at present. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  On behalf of the Sinn Féin Party in the House, I extend our sympathy [510] to the wife and family of the late Paddy Hegarty, the former Fine Gael representative for Cork East. I take the opportunity to extend our sympathy to his party colleagues, to the party leader and to members of the Fine Gael Party in the House on their loss. I did not have the opportunity to serve with former Deputy Hegarty, but I do not have any doubt that the tributes extended to him are deserved. I join in that collective tribute.

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. M. Ahern): Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  I join with the other speakers in extending sympathy to Paddy Hegarty's wife Eileen, to his sons, Peadair, Niall, Philip, Richard and Padraig, to his daughters, Kathleen and Eileen, to his brother, Fr. Dick, and to his sisters, Sr. Peter, Sr. Immaculata and Mrs. Flanagan. I served with Paddy in the House since 1982 and my father served with him from 1973. Paddy was a good friend of our family. He was someone with whom one could deal because any arrangement would be honoured. He was not only involved in political life but in the social life of east Cork. He was involved in Macra na Feirme and he also took part in plays. He was involved in the development of other facilities when he left public life. Paddy was wholeheartedly involved in the public life of east Cork for all his life. He will be missed by all those who knew him and particularly by his family. I extend my sympathy to his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Mr. N. O'Keeffe: Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  I wish to be associated with all the remarks made about Paddy Hegarty. He was an innovative and imaginative man. I extend my sympathy to his wife, Eileen, to his sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Paddy was a farmer in east Cork. He spent all his life in farming and in politics. He was a member of Macra na Feirme, as the Taoiseach said, and also of the IFA. He represented farmers in dark days when things were difficult in agriculture. He was influential in that area. He inherited the seat from the late Fianna Fáil Deputy, Martin Corry. He had big shoes to fill when he represented Martin Corry, but he did that with affection, dignity and efficiency. He had a passion for agriculture and for the food industry. He made many efforts to industrialise east Cork in terms of the food industry, particularly regarding Erin Foods. He had a great friendship with Dr. Tony O'Reilly who was the managing director and president of the Heinz Corporation. He made strenuous efforts to bring that company to east Cork through his contacts with Dr. O'Reilly. However, when it was located in Dundalk, it caused him great disappointment. Having done a great deal of donkey work, he was very sad the company located elsewhere. Nonetheless, what one part of the island lost, the other gained.

Paddy held strong Christian values and views and was never afraid to speak his mind on social legislation. He died with his passion and views [511] intact. May the green soil of his native Cloyne lie lightly on his breast. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  I first got to know Paddy Hegarty when I joined Fine Gael back in the 1970s. He was a big man, both in stature and spirit. As Deputy Ned O'Keeffe said, his religious values were important to him. He was conscious of his humanity and often prayed. He was a modest man who, on becoming ill last summer, did not want any fuss or visits. He wanted to meet his maker with dignity which he did.

Paddy was an expert farmer who was interested in horticulture and innovation. He helped establish the vegetable plant in Midleton and tried to implement other plans. He left political life under something of a cloud because of a controversy surrounding the Merrill Dow company. He believed passionately in setting up a factory in east Cork, an idea with which, fortunately or unfortunately, many people did not agree at the time. He was not one to shy away from controversy and fought for what he believed in. I extend my sympathy to his wife, Eileen, to his family and to his brother and sisters. May Paddy Hegarty, a big man in spirit and body, rest in peace.

Ms Harkin: Information on Marian Harkin  Zoom on Marian Harkin  On behalf of the Independent group, I convey our expression of sympathy to the family and friends of the late Deputy Paddy Hegarty.

Members rose.


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