Thursday, 6 December 1990
Seanad Éireann Debate
An Cathaoirleach: Before we commence the business of the morning, I would like to make it known to Members of the House that the Clerk of the Seanad, Mr. Kieran Coughlan, is with us for the last time today. He is going forward to become Clerk of Dáil Éireann. I am sure many Members of the House would like to express their good wishes to him and to acknowledge the services he has rendered with special professionalism over his years here. I would like to say a special thanks to him for all the qualities he has displayed in his office towards individual Members and towards the House itself and to compliment him on his integrity, his sense of fair play and understanding and his desire, above all else, to maintain the highest standards and to protect the highest values that this House seeks to ensure will be upheld at all times. I wish him well in his new post and I have no doubt Dáil Éireann will be enormously enhanced by his presence.
If the House agrees, it would be approriate that Leaders of the House and also former Cathaoirligh or Leas-Chathaoirligh, may like to pay their tribute. If there are other Members who wish to pay tribute, if that is the wish of the House, I will not constrain anybody, but naturally we would like to do it in a way that  would not take too long while, at the same time, paying the proper respect to Mr. Coughlan.
Mr. Fallon: As you have said, this is the last day Kieran Coughlan will be with us in the Seanad. It is a very sad day for us. Kieran has been with us for about three and a half years as Clerk and previously he was Clerk Assistant. I, and all the Members of the Seanad, would say that he has been an extremely courteous, helpful person, excellent in every way, competent in his role, an outstanding civil servant, totally expert in procedural matters and rules governing this House. His nice way and charm is something that pleased each and every one of us.
Another aspect of his role is that of Seanad Returning Officer. We all recall his command of the system, his expertise at the various Seanad counts, his careful handling of the delicate situation at Seanad counts. His qualities were greatly praised and admired by all. Kieran will be missed here. Our loss is the gain of the Lower House.
Mr. Manning: On behalf of my Fine Gael colleagues, I would like to join with you and the Leader of the House in congratulating Mr. Kieran Coughlan on his translation — I will not say elevation — to the Clerkship of the other House and to wish him every success there. I know that based on his performance here and on his personality he is certain to make a great success of that job too.
I would like to thank him for all his help to all Members in all parties over the years, for his great courtesy, for his even greater tact which, I am sure, at times was tested, for his fairness and, above all, as the Cathaoirleach said, for his integrity. His ability to help new Members around the procedures and practices is by this stage almost legendary. He was always positive in his help to Members, old and new, and never intrusive. He had the ability to reprimand us if we were not properly obeying the procedures without it appearing to be a reprimand. He also had a genuine concern for the welfare of all Members of  this House. One of his greatest qualities was his great feeling for this House, for its traditions, for the distinctive role it has to play in Irish politics, for the dignity of the House and its standing with the public and, most of all, for the potential of this House which, in many respects, is still untapped. He is, as the Leader said, a fine public servant.
The other House's gain is very much our loss but he will leave here knowing the high esteem in which he is held by all groups in this House and the total respect of all Members which he brings with him to the other House. On behalf of my own group and, I am sure, of all Members here, I wish him well.
Professor Murphy: On behalf of the University Senators I would like to be associated with what has been said. We, too, have experienced his kindness and his co-operation. It gives me an additional personal pleasure to note that he is a UCC graduate and a former student of my own.
Apart from his obvious skills and the courtesy he has shown to all of us, he has shown remarkable tact and he aquitted himself not alone with courage but with considerable aplomb in a very difficult and unprecedented situation. I know these are skills that he will bring to the other House. On behalf of the University Senators we wish him every good luck.
Dr. Upton: I, too, would like to join in congratulating Kieran on his appointment as Clerk of the Dáil. Certainly as far as I am concerned, and as far as the Labour Members are concerned, he could not have been more courteous, more kind or more helpful to us. He has been very helpful to the new Members of our group, particularly Senator Costello and myself, in terms of the advice and guidance he has given us when we sought to use the procedures of the House. He greatly enhanced the reputation of the House. He has always endeavoured to protect that reputation and, indeed, to avail of every opportunity which existed for the development of the role of the  Seanad. He has been an expert on procedure and he has been exceptionally kind and courteous in the manner in which he conducted the count during the election to the Seanad. One of Kieran's more endearing features is that he always made things look easy and he never went in for ceremonials or for making a big deal of what in many cases were quite complex matters that he was handling.
I am delighted that he is going to the Dáil. Perhaps he is setting an example for many of us to the extent that many of us seem to have an ambition to follow him there, if one is to believe the stories one hears.
Mr. Cullen: We in the Progressive Decocrats would like to concur with all the sentiments expressed and wish Kieran every success in his move from this House to the Dáil. It is true to say that integrity is Kieran's personal hallmark. I had the good fortune when I arrived in the Dáil in 1987 of having my first contact with Kieran. It is also true to say that he has always taken the time and the trouble to show new Members around, make sure that we knew where we were going and what the whole business was about. As I started in 1987, when Kieran moved to the Seanad, I, too, hope that I will be following him back to the Dáil in the not-too-distant future.
Mrs. Honan: I would like to add my voice to those of my colleagues in paying tribute to Kieran Coughlan. He is a most distinguished senior civil servant. For me, this is a very personal loss. Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not intend to follow Kieran to the Dáil but I hope that that will not separate us as friends. As Cathaoirleach, as Leas-Chathaoirleach and as Cathaoirleach again, I needed Kieran's advice and I always took it. He made a very hard job look easy. I served with another Clerk of the Seanad and it is a very tough job but Kieran Coughlan had an easy way with him and he made it look easy. Like Senator Murphy — and we do not have too much in common — I think what stood to Kieran was that he was a Corkman and his lovely Munster ease made him good with people. I wish Kieran well and I publicly thank him for being a good friend and an extraordinarily good adviser to me and to this House. As Senator Manning said, he had a commitment to this House which I hope will be followed by his successor, whoever that may be. He saw the Seanad at times as being as important as the Dáil and not too many see it in that light.
Mr. Naughten: I would like to join with the previous speakers in wishing Kieran every good luck on his transfer to the Dáil. I would join with the other Members of the House in thanking him for his courtesy and kindness to Members. In particular, I want to record my thanks to him for his advice to me when it was needed. I join with the other Members in wishing Kieran well and, like some of the other Members, I hope to be joining him in the Dáil at a later stage.
Mr. Hourigan: I, too, would like to express my sincere regards to Kieran Coughlan on his elevation to his position in the Dáil. I can only reiterate what the other Senators have said. His qualities have been exemplified here quite clearly over the period that he has served both as Clerk Assistant and as Clerk. His integrity is beyond reproach. He has demonstrated that on a number of occasions. His absolute kindness and courtesy to individual Members when they sought advice or an opinion was memorable. He had a high level of tolerance. As far as procedural matters were concerned, he knew the facts and at all times he carried out his duties with the total impartiality that the office requires. I would like to wish Kieran, his wife and family well. I wish Kieran, in his position as Clerk of the Dáil, many, many happy  years of health, happiness and good fortune and progress in that role.
Mr. Farrell: I would like to be associated with all the kind remarks about Kieran Coughlan. I have known him over the years — we have all known him as a very good friend rather than an official — and I wish him well in his new job. I know the good friendship that existed between us here will continue to exist between himself and ourselves in his new position. We had a very good team in the Clerk and Clerk Assistant and whoever follows the Clerk will have a very difficult act to follow. I wish him every success in his new position.
Mr. J. Ryan: I would like to be associated with the much deserved compliments to a very gentle Corkman. Coming from somebody from Tipperary that is the highest compliment I can pay him. Since my entry to Dáil Éireann in 1973, I watched his progress through the House. What he has now achieved is richly deserved. I wish him every success in his new position and perhaps I may meet him again in the other House in the years ahead.
An Cathaoirleach: Mr. Coughlan has asked me to say that he is acutely embarrassed by all the good wishes and that he would like to convey, through me, his personal thanks to all of you and his delight at having worked with you and for you.
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