Friday, 1 July 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: As this is the end of the session, I thank Members for their co-operation during the year. I thank the Clerk of the Dáil, the Clerk Assistant of the Dáil, the Superintendent, the Captain, the Garda, the Army, the ushers and all the staff of the Houses, those whom we see and those whom we do not see, such as the cleaners who are gone before we arrive in the morning.
I particularly want to thank Ray Hesse. Ray Hesse has been Head Usher since Paddy Behan left us. Ray came into the House in 1973 as a service officer. He became an usher in 1975 and is the first service officer to become Head Usher in the Houses. He has been a committed, dedicated member of the staff, looking after the interests of Members and other staff for all those years. I would like to record my thanks and the thanks of all Members of the Dáil to Ray for the work he has done and wish him, his wife Maura and children, Karen and Paul, many happy and successful years into the future.
Members will participate in committees throughout July and September and there are some who will take no break at all during the recess. Wearing my medical hat, I advise Members to take at least a few weeks to get away from all the activity, have a rest and enjoy themselves.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Kitt): I thank the Ceann Comhairle, the Clerk of the Dáil and all the staff of the Houses, those on the frontline and those working in offices, who have been so co-operative over this long session. Deputies should take the advice of the Ceann Comhairle and take some time out during the summer recess. We have a busy schedule of committee work in July and September. Last year there were 22 committee meetings in July and 32 in September so Members are continuing with their work.
I join the Ceann Comhairle in wishing Ray Hesse a happy retirement. It is great to see a person like Ray, who came here as a messenger in 1973, move up the ranks to his current position of Head Usher. He saw the many changes that have taken place in those years. He always has a friendly smile for Members as we rush around the Houses and he acts as a calming influence. It takes a special person to do that. Ray has been most professional and courteous in all his years here and I congratulate him on behalf of myself and my Government colleagues on his retirement. He will retire in August and I wish him, his wife Maura and his family many happy and enjoyable years in the years ahead.
Mr. Kehoe: I wish the Ceann Comhairle, the Clerk of the Dáil and the staff the best of luck for the summer recess. I thank the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the Civil Service, the ushers, porters, stationery office staff, cleaners, catering staff, and political and media staff who bring the message outside the House, good or bad. Without them the outside world would not know what happens in this House. I thank the staff of the Government Whip’s office, the staff of my office and the assistant Whip, Deputy Neville, for their work over recent months.
I wish the Head Usher, Mr. Ray Hesse, the best of luck in his retirement. It frightens me to note he began working in the House in 1973 because I was born then. Thirty two years is a very long time to put into any service. I know Ray Hesse would say it was a privilege to work in the Houses of the Oireachtas and its environs. One cannot find a better place to work or be involved in because of the commitment of all people in the Houses. When I first entered the House, I did not even know my way around. However, I will always remember Ray Hesse’s face as he was one of the first ushers I met. He has a lifetime of commitment within the Houses, and it was a long-standing commitment. On behalf of the Fine Gael Party Leader, Deputy Kenny, and the Fine Gael parliamentary party, I wish Ray, his wife, Maura, and his family the best of luck. Maura will have to find much work, such as painting, for Ray. I do not know if he plays golf but I am sure she will find plenty for him to do. I wish him a happy retirement and hope we will see him around the Houses now and again for many more years to come.
Dr. Upton: On behalf of the Labour Party, I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his co-operation with all of us throughout the year. Even if we have differences of opinion at times, we know in the end we get a fair crack of the whip.
I thank the Clerk of the Dáil, the Superintendent, the Captain of the Guard and all the staff. I particularly thank the staff, as the Ceann Comhairle said, we do not see. Things do not just happen; they get done discreetly behind the scenes because people put in a great effort. We should appreciate the good work that goes on without any fuss.
I wish Mr. Ray Hesse a very happy retirement and wish his wife, Maura, and his family well. When I was first elected, Ray was one of the people who was always very welcoming and good-humoured, as well as the staff he looked after so well. I hope the Ceann Comhairle has a pleasant summer break.
Mr. Sargent: On behalf of the Green Party, An Comhaontas Glas, guím gach rath ar Ray Hesse, ar a bhean chéile, Maura, agus ar a chlann ar fad ar an ócáid i mí Lúnasa nuair a éiríonn sé as a phost. I thank Ray, the man who is at the centre of our thoughts, for all his work down the years, his courtesy, helpfulness and the way he has helped make the Oireachtas work more efficiently, even though we should be here longer. I recognise the humid weather has increased the temperature in the House. While a break is certainly needed in the summer to recharge batteries, I hope the House can come back before the UN millennium summit to hear the Government’s proposal for a renewed commitment on the target of 0.7% of gross national product.
This is a day for thanking the Ceann Comhairle and the staff of the Houses who have helped us to do the work as best we can and without whose help it would be much more difficult. I recognise that because what is done is done so well, it does not come to the prominence in which those of us in public life very often find ourselves involved. This is a reflection of the professional job done in providing an efficient service. It is only at a time like this that we get the opportunity to reflect on how important and effective it is.
I wish Ray Hesse, all the ushers, the staff, the press corps, which does an important job, and the Government well. Although we have our differences with the Government, I appreciate the challenges that lie ahead. They are even bigger than it sometimes appreciates. I hope we all have a good break and come back refreshed, renewed and determined to make the place better in the future.
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