Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Death of Polish President: Expressions of Sympathy


4:00 pm

Photo of Michael MulcahyMichael Mulcahy (Dublin South Central, Fianna Fail)

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for granting me the special opportunity of adding my voice to the other voices of sympathy for the victims of the Polish Air Force crash on 10 April. I do so first as an Irish citizen and second as a public representative who always has taken a great interest in Poland and holds that country in great affection. When Lord Mayor of Dublin, my first official visit was to Poland and, having advocated stronger links between our two countries for several years, I was honoured in 2002 by the Polish Government.

While the loss of any single life is tragic, what makes the air crash on 10 April especially tragic is that the victims represented a group of leaders of Polish society of the highest calibre, political, moral and cultural, as well as past and present. While the sympathy of this country of course goes out to the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria, an examination of all 96 persons on board indicates what a terrible loss this was to Poland, including 18 parliamentarians. I wish to put on the record of the Dáil the names of all 96 people who died in this crash and will do so later.

I also wish to mention two people in particular. The first is Ryszard Kaczorowski, who was born in 1919. He was a Polish statesman who, between 1989 and 1990, served as the last president of Poland in exile. Arrested in 1940 by the NKVD and sentenced to death, he was later set free and served in the army led by General Anders. He fought in most of the major battles in which the Polish 2nd Corps participated, including the Battle of Monte Cassino. He was a member of the National Council of Poland, the parliament in exile, he was the last president-in-exile of the Polish state and handed over the insignia of the presidential power of the second republic to President Lech Walesa on 22 September 1990. I also wish to mention the person to whom Deputy Ó Caoláin referred, namely, Ms Anna Walentynowicz, who was one of the chief people in respect of the strike in the Gdansk shipyard.

It is especially poignant that this tragedy occurred while the delegation was on its way to commemorate a massacre of 22,000 Polish officers and other Polish persons at Katyn in April 1940. It is to be hoped that one of the consequences of this terrible tragedy is that Poland and Russia will move even closer to improving their relations, which would be a fitting tribute to all those who died on the Polish Air Force TU-154 on 10 April 2010. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha dílse.


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