Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Death of former Members: Expressions of Sympathy
Before calling on Members to offer their tributes to our two departed former colleagues, I would like to welcome the families of Paddy Harte and Monica Barnes to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery, including Paddy's widow, Rosaleen; his sons, Paddy, Garrett, Emmett and Jimmy; his daughters Mary, Anne and Róisín; and Jimmy's wife. So too, is Monica's daughter Sarah and her granddaughter Ailbhe. You are all very welcome. This is a sad day for you all but I hope that the support and memories that are shared here in Leinster House will serve to support you as we pay tribute to two much respected and distinguished former Members.
Paddy Harte often tilled a lonely piece of rugged Donegal furrow in his search for dialogue and lasting peace on our island. He was a generous public representative and a man of political courage and determination, often going against the political grain to extend the hand of friendship across a divided land. We often forget how many sacrifices, ideological, philosophical and political had to made in the long barb-strewn path to peace on this troubled land. Paddy Harte walked a step ahead of history and we owe him a debt of thanks for the courageous use of his role as a legislator to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of Irish men and Irish women. It is particularly good to see Paddy's son, Jimmy, with us here today.
Monica Barnes represented Dún Laoghaire for many years, but also typified a long and distinguished tradition within Fine Gael of social activism and progressive practical steps to better the lives of men, women and children both in her south Dublin constituency and nationally. I have spoken on a number of occasions this year at events marking 100 years since women's suffrage. This right was won a mere four generations ago, which is shocking to remember. The right to place a democratic mark on the ballot paper was won with a struggle not given generously by the men of 1918. With dignity and tenacity, Monica carried on that struggle to see a fairer, more equal society, not only for women but for all Irish citizens. Like Paddy, she often argued causes which did not have full or popular support at the time that she served in this Chamber but the strength of her conviction, coupled with the warmth of her personality and willingness to engage with all sides of the House, ensured that she was respected for her views and listened to by all, even those who differed radically with her. It is a real strength of character to be able to disagree agreeably. She was a skilled parliamentarian, fighting for many causes. Personally, I think her greatest testament will be to continue the fight begun in 1918 when Countess Markievicz was elected to the House of Commons in Westminster and took her seat instead in the first Dáil. That work continues but we remember today Monica's crucial role in the fight for a better Ireland.
Both Paddy and Monica served this House with distinction and fortitude. As Ceann Comhairle, I offer my renewed condolences to their families, who should take great comfort in the patriotism shown by both Paddy and Monica.
I am grateful for this opportunity to offer my condolences and pay tribute two people who served this country with honour and distinction. They both helped us as a country to come to terms with our history and in doing so enabled us to build a better future.
Paddy Harte was an architect of peace and reconciliation on our island, building bridges across communities. His lasting achievement is the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines, made possible by working with people from different backgrounds, different perspectives and different traditions for a greater good. It is a reminder of the shared history on our island and a symbol of hope for the future. Paddy Harte helped us to decommission sectarian views about our history and educated us about how we can remember and commemorate the sacrifices of the past with honour. It is remarkable that in a political career which spanned 36 years in this House and a short but successful stint as a Minister of State that nobody ever had a bad word to say about him. He was a gentleman who always saw the good in others, an approach that helped dismantle barriers on both sides of the Border. If things turned out differently, Paddy Harte might have spent his life as a successful butcher in Donegal but instead he served the people of Donegal north east a different way, by turning his own home into a railway station and always welcoming people who needed help. Paddy Harte will be remembered as a patriot who reminded us that love of country does not require us to hate anyone else. It is a lasting legacy. Today, we remember his wife, Rosaleen, their children, Mary, Paddy, Anne, Jimmy, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny, Garrett and Emmett and their 24 grandchildren and many friends. Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.
In recent months, we have also paid tributes in this House to whistleblowers who stood up for the truth at great personal cost. In many ways, Monica Barnes was a political whistleblower. She was someone I knew personally and someone who called time on a culture that was, in her words, "bleak, guilt ridden, repressed". Often she was criticised and sometimes she was harassed but she never wavered. Monica Barnes led the way with courage and good humour, always polite, always seeking a better way. She was a fearless campaigner for change in the way she championed women's rights and the way she demanded that care and compassion be shown to people in difficult situations. She was a pioneer of social liberalism in my own party, a founding member of the Council for the Status of Women, a Senator, a Deputy faithfully representing the people of Dún Laoghaire and she was an inspiration for many people around the country, in particular young people and young women in Fine Gael and beyond.
I feel though that if she were with us here today she would not let us get away with nice tributes without acknowledging that we have still so much more to do. We have much more to do before we realise her vision for Ireland and we will do that and remember that her courage and determination helped point the way for us. Today, our sympathies are with her husband Bob, their daughters Sarah and Joanne, her sister Angela and brother Colm, as well as their grandchildren, extended family and friends. We also remember her beloved son Paul, who sadly predeceased her.
Monica's family and friends can be proud of a true political pioneer who helped to make our country a much kinder, more modern and overall better place.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
Polaiteoir gníomhach grámhar ab ea Paddy Harte. Fear lách, láidir, agus neamhspleách a bhí ann. Thuig sé tábhacht gach traidisiún ar an oileán seo. D'oibrigh dian dícheallach Domhnach is dálach ar son mhuintir Dhún na nGall, ar son mhuintir na tíre seo, agus chun síocháin a chur ar bun ar an oileán.
Paddy Harte has left a lasting mark on Irish politics not only through his work as a Deputy representing the people of Donegal north east but as a builder of bridges. As Fine Gael spokesperson on Northern Ireland he was a politician who engaged meaningfully with all traditions and people from all backgrounds. In that respect, he was ahead of his time. He dedicated much of his life to public service and he was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1961 to 1997, a span that encompassed the worst of the death and destruction in Northern Ireland.
He was Minister of State in the 1981 to 1982 Government in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, but he was not the type of politician who felt he needed ministerial status to make a contribution. Paddy made a major contribution through his involvement with the former UDA chief, Mr. Glenn Barr, in promoting the recognition of Irish people who died during World War I, and I believe he will be best remembered for that. He did this long before it was popular, and for the courage he showed in that regard he deserves our collective acclamation. His resolve to progress this issue not only recognised the sacrifice that Irish soldiers made in the Great War but also led to the building of the Island of Ireland Peace Park and round tower in Belgium. The work saw him awarded numerous accolades, including an honorary OBE and an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the National University of Ireland, as well as being named European of the Year in 1998.
While he was a stalwart and steadfast member of Fine Gael, he was very much his own man. Indeed, when violence broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969 he crossed the floor of the House and met the then Taoiseach, Mr. Jack Lynch, to give him his advice and ideas on the unfolding crisis. It was this type of approach that won Paddy so many admirers on all sides of the House. A proud Donegal man, an Ulster man and an Irish man, I again extend my condolences to Paddy's wife Rosaleen and his nine children. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Bean agus polaiteoir faoi leith ab ea Monica Barnes. Bá dhuine le prionsabail í a bhí chun tosaigh maidir le cearta sibhialta ginearálta agus cearta sibhialta mná na tíre seo ach go háirithe. Bhí sí tuisceanach, ceanúil, agus gníomhach in an-chuid feachtas le glúinte anuas. Monica Barnes was a courageous and outspoken voice in Irish politics at a time when progressive voices were few and far between. She was, in many respects, ahead of her time and always thought outside the box. She was a very proud feminist and was admired by many. A co-founder of the Council for the Status of Women in 1973, now the National Women's Council of Ireland, she and Mary Robinson, Gemma Hussey and Nuala Fennell were among the trailblazers for advancing women's rights in the 1970s. The liberal leadership of Garrett FitzGerald attracted her to Fine Gael and she was elected to Dáil Éireann in November 1982.
The following year she was one of two Fine Gael Deputies to oppose the wording of the legislation and the insertion of the eighth amendment in the Constitution. Monica agreed with the advice of the then Attorney General, the late Peter Sutherland. She was also a committed supporter of the 1986 referendum to remove the ban on divorce. While the causes dear to her heart did not have much success in the 1980s she was never disheartened and she retained her open and optimistic outlook on life. Although she advocated with passion for her beliefs she was never dismissive or intolerant of those with whom she disagreed. I echo the words of the Ceann Comhairle, that she was most agreeable in disagreeing with people. She was approachable, a very warm person and had a great sense of humour.
Fearless yet courteous, she made friends across the political spectrum and the loss of her seat in 1992 was greeted with disappointment by many outside Fine Gael. She never held ministerial office, although had she been a Deputy in 1994 when the rainbow Government took office it would have been hard to overlook her. She returned for a final term to represent Dún Laoghaire in 1997 before retiring in 2002. Sadly, she lost her son Paul to cancer the following year. She never lost her commitment to the causes for which she was passionate and was all set to campaign to repeal the eighth amendment earlier this year. It was not to be, however, and she passed away quietly and suddenly at home three weeks before the day of the referendum. I have no doubt that she inspired many other women to enter political life. This year we mark the centenary of women voting for the first time and Monica Barnes's life was a powerful example of what women can achieve in national life.
Monica's family's grief can be tempered with pride in her great achievements in public life. I offer my sincere sympathy and that of my party to her husband Bob, daughters Sarah and Joanne and her wider family, the Fine Gael Party.
Ar mo shon féin agus ar son Sinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde iarTheachta Paddy Harte, a fuair bás i mí Eanáir. On my own behalf and on behalf of Sinn Féin I extend sincere sympathies to the family and friends of former Teachta Paddy Harte, who passed away last January. As has been said, Paddy had a lengthy career in the Dáil, serving the people of his beloved Donegal for no less than 36 years from 1961 to 1997. It is an incredible record. During that time he served briefly as a Minister of State at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs from 1981 to 1982. However, quite correctly, it is for his work on peace and reconciliation that Paddy will be best remembered, particularly his work in delivering the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Flanders which opened in 1998 and which commemorates all Irishmen who died during the First World War. It is a place I was pleased and moved to visit. It is a tribute to him.
There is much on which Paddy and I would have disagreed, but I have no doubt that there are also many things on which we would have seen eye to eye. In any event, his contribution to public life was immense. I join others in extending sympathy and condolences to his loved ones, his wife Rosaleen, his nine children Mary, Paddy, Anne, Jimmy, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny, Garrett and Emmett - a formidable clan - his other relatives and friends and his wider family and colleagues in Fine Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
Arís ar mo shon féin agus ar son Sinn Féin, ba mhaith liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann agus cairde iarTheachta Monica Barnes, a fuair bás i mí Bealtaine. I also extend deep sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of former Teachta, Monica Barnes, who passed away in May. On the occasion of her passing I remarked in the House that she had always struck me as a very untypical member of Fine Gael, which was received as one might expect by her fellow members of Fine Gael. She served in the House for a lengthy period from 1982 to 1992 and again from 1997 to 2002. She was also briefly a Member of the Seanad in 1982.
She was undoubtedly one of the most courageous feminist voices of her time and in Irish political history. She was one of a small number of people who had the foresight, compassion and vision to stand against the eighth amendment when it was first proposed. I never met Monica Barnes. I wish I had as I really liked her. I had great admiration for her, and her record of public service speaks for itself. I recall as a young woman listening to her, watching her and being moved and inspired by her. I join with others in extending sympathy and condolences to her husband Bob, her daughters Sarah and Joanne, her siblings, grandchildren, other relatives and friends, as well as her colleagues in Fine Gael. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
It is my great privilege as well as my duty to pay tribute to two remarkable former Members of this House and two remarkable public servants I was privileged to know. At first glance, the two might have appeared to be very different people, and they were, but they shared extraordinary values, passionate views on what was right and passionate voices to articulate those views regardless of the opinion of their political party or the consensus. They stood by what was right. Those characteristics are truly important in public representatives.
Paddy Harte could be described as a peacemaker, as the Ceann Comhairle said. If one were to accord an attribute to any of us, to be called a peacemaker is among the highest accolades one could bestow.
Paddy was involved in making peace at a very human level. It was not in broad structural terms; it was in building bridges and reconciling differences. At his funeral it was said that his greatest legacy was the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Belgium, which was formally opened on 11 November 1998 by President Mary McAleese, Prince Albert of Belgium and Queen Elizabeth. This was seen then as a turning point, not only in history but in the relationships between the peoples of these islands. It was one of the many important steps on the road to real reconciliation. I am truly delighted to see the members of the Harte family in the Distinguished Visitors' Gallery today. I may be forgiven for welcoming Jimmy especially. I know that the Harte family is a hub of community and the open door connection with the surrounding community is an important aspect of the family's very existence. On behalf of the Labour Party and all my colleagues, I send my condolences, but also my congratulations, to the Harte family for the incredible service that Paddy gave to his community and to his country.
I knew Monica Barnes very well. Again, she was someone who often shared more views with me than with many other Members or with the majority of her own party, certainly in the early days. I remember one trip I made with two remarkable women. Monica Barnes, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and I went on a trip to Russia. I am not sure I can actually tell all-----
-----but we had a very interesting overnight train journey from Moscow to Vilnius in the former Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. As well as the samovar of tea, we also had a stronger native beverage and I had some very good, insightful discussions on all politics and all politicians on that journey with those remarkable women.
I often wondered about that afterwards because we were accompanied by a Russian. Maybe there is a transcript worth reading in some liberated archive in Moscow. On that trip one of the people we met was Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. I remember that Monica was truly delighted to meet a woman who had been in space. As others said, Monica was a true feminist who would advance the cause of women always and forever, in every circumstance without fear or favour and, if anybody had a different view, without taking any hostages.
Monica Barnes and I often shared political platforms and I recall that once in my early political career I very reluctantly gave up my Saturday clinic to do a meeting with women's groups in Dublin. My co-speaker at this meeting was Monica. I asked her if she found it difficult to give up her clinic on a Saturday. I learned then of politics in Dún Laoghaire. Monica said: "Clinics on a Saturday? I meet with my constituents by appointment on a Tuesday."
Politics can be very different but we are certainly the poorer of personalities like Paddy and Monica. It was a terrible blow to Monica to lose her son, Paul, but she made a remarkable and indelible impression on everybody she met and on the cause of the advancement of women and social progress generally in the State.
On behalf of the Labour Party, I join with others in extending my condolences but also my congratulations to Bob and the family for the remarkable life and achievements of Monica Barnes. May Monica Barnes and Paddy Harte both be looking down on us and enjoying the few words of celebratory acknowledgement that we give to them today.
On behalf of Solidarity-People Before Profit, I extend my sympathy and condolences to the Harte and Barnes families. Both of the deceased were a bit before my time and I would not have been that familiar with Paddy's record but it has been very impressive to listen to it recounted here. I congratulate the Harte family and pay tribute to them for putting up with the travel Paddy would have done up and down from Donegal to here for 30 years. If I stayed in here for 30 years, my young fellas would absolutely kill me. The family must be very proud of such a record. To stick at it for that long shows extraordinary stamina if nothing else. The Island of Ireland Peace Park in Belgium is an extraordinary achievement for which the family should be very proud.
I know that Deputy Seán Barrett will have a lot more to say about Monica Barnes. I am not sure if I ever met her. It is quite possible I did because my aunt Janet Kinsella, who was a stalwart of the Fine Gael Dún Laoghaire branch certainly would have known her and known Deputy Barrett also. It is very possible I met Monica at family occasions. As a young fella, up to no good on the streets of Dún Laoghaire and before I took any great interest in politics, I would have certainly been more than familiar with the names of Barnes, Barrett and Cosgrave as they were emblazoned across the lamp posts of Dún Laoghaire. Although I would not have shared the Fine Gael affiliation, and I had many robust debates with my aunt Janet on politics, I was aware of Monica's central role in the fight for women's rights in this country, her opposition to the 1983 wording of the eighth amendment to the Constitution, her support for the right to divorce and her historic role in a broader social movement to achieve rights and equality for women. With the tremendous changes that have happened with the recent vote to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution, we cannot say anything other than we owe a debt of gratitude to trailblazers like Monica Barnes, and many others who are not still with us and who fought against the tide in those early days when it was neither profitable nor popular to do so. Her family deserve to be very proud of that. It is sad that she is not here to see the great victory that has been the long-term impact of a struggle that people like Monica Barnes started many years ago. My sympathy and condolences go to her family.
On behalf of Independents4Change, I extend our sympathy to the families of Paddy Harte and Monica Barnes. As a Donegal man it is an honour for me to talk about Paddy Harte. I met Paddy only once or twice, very briefly, over the years but I served on Donegal County Council with Paddy's son, Jimmy, and we had a good collegial relationship at council level. While they may not have known him personally everybody who grew up in Donegal knew who Paddy Harte was, and the Harte family name is, synonymous with Fine Gael and with peace building right across the county. It is a great honour for me to pay tribute, to pass on my condolences to Rosaleen and the family and to have said these few words.
On behalf of Independents4Change, I would also like to express sympathy to Bob Barnes and his family on the passing of Monica. I did not know Monica but I have heard of her honourable and very distinguished record through tributes paid in the media and in this House.
This year's repeal of the eighth amendment is a great tribute to her work and her foresight in opposing the amendment when it came in first. That has to be noted. On behalf of our group, I wish to express our condolences to her family.
On behalf of the Rural Independents and on my own behalf, I would like to express our sympathies on the deaths of two former parliamentarians of some renown. We offer our sympathies to their families and indeed to the Fine Gael Party, to Monica's daughter and her husband, Bob, and others. The former Senator and Deputy was described by her daughter, Sarah, as an open and optimistic person and that she most definitely was. Although she and I had many differing views, I salute her courage and her integrity in standing up for what she believed in with passion and conviction. To her husband and family I offer our sincere sympathies for their loss.
I worked with Paddy Harte in television and on radio and listened to his debates. To the Harte family, his wife Rosaleen, and, of course, the former Senator, Jimmy Harte, with whom I served on the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, I offer our sympathies. Paddy Harte came in here in 1961 and successfully contested 11 further general elections. That was no mean achievement. He was a colourful character and very passionate. His son, Jimmy, also distinguished himself when he was here and we miss him. I certainly miss Jimmy's company and his kind advice.
Paddy was involved in many projects after he retired. The biggest one of all was the Island of Ireland Peace Park, which was opened by no less than the President of the day, Mary McAleese, Prince Albert of Belgium and Queen Elizabeth. He always pursued peace, long before it was fashionable, in the peace process and in tough and challenging times. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anamacha dílse an bheirt iarTheachta.
On behalf of the Green Party and on behalf of the Oireachtas women’s parliamentary caucus, I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, relatives and friends of Monica Barnes.
Ba mhaith liom ómós a thabhairt do Mhonica Barnes, laoch pearsanta domsa agus bean a bhí ar an scoil chéanna liomsa. Mar Sheanadóir agus mar Theachta, las sí soilse do mhná sa pholaitíocht nuair a bhí sé an-deacair dúinn dul chun cinn a dhéanamh. Sa seacht mí ó cailleadh í tá cácas na mban ag dul ó neart go neart, agus tá rian agus oidhreacht Mhonica le braith iontu siúd.
Monica was a towering figure, a woman who made a difference and left a lasting impression, a fearless advocate. It is crucial that we remember that she was a fearless advocate in a very different time, in a less kind Ireland, in what was at the time a judgmental Ireland. It was a completely different place. But it never deterred her pioneering voice from articulating in a most persuasive way what she believed in.
On a personal note, I have lost a fellow past pupil from our shared alma mater in the Barony of Farney, namely, St. Louis secondary school in Carrickmacross. Monica travelled to school from the neighbouring town of Kingscourt, as did many of my school friends when I was a student in St. Louis. As a young pupil there, I found her inspirational and we were very proud that she was the first past pupil from our school to be elected to Dáil Éireann. The last time I spoke to Monica was in Áras an Uachtaráin on International Women’s Day this year, when we took a photo together to mark the fact that we were the two past pupils of St. Louis who were elected to the Dáil.
When I established the Oireachtas women’s parliamentary caucus last year, Monica’s campaigning voice was ever present. More importantly, her belief and support were invaluable and unwavering in reminding us in the caucus that although we may have come far since her days in Leinster House and have increased our representation in the Oireachtas, there is a long way to go. While we have all lost a dear friend, the greatest tribute we can make to Monica is to continue her pioneering work for women. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
On behalf of the Green Party, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Paddy Harte. I concur with the comments made by others. The President recently spoke of the State's at times selective amnesia but Paddy Harte was never in that category. In respect of true reconciliation, he was ahead of his time. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
I would like to pay tribute to Paddy Harte, with whom I had the pleasure of serving here. The main purpose of my few words, however, is to speak about my ex-colleague from Dún Laoghaire, Monica Barnes. Monica was just unique in that there was no tradition in how she went about doing things. We stood together in 1981 and twice in 1982 - three elections in 18 months. She was eventually elected in November 1982 and served here for that term, until 1987, and served another term up to 1992. Then she retired. However, an election came along in 1997 and I decided I would call over to her. We each had the unique pleasure of living side by side in Arnold Park in a five-seat constituency. Arnold Park consists of approximately 80 or 90 houses and the residents had two sitting Deputies.
She got the female vote and I got the male vote. In any event, I called over to her, even though she had retired at that stage, and asked her if she would be interested in standing again. She said "Okay, I will." We set about it and she went off on her merry rounds. I never knew where she was and did not care where she was going because that is the type of candidate she was. We did not divide up the territory. She had her own people and, sure enough, she was re-elected.
It was a unique experience to serve with somebody like that, especially in this day and age of cutthroat politics. People are always asking each other if they were at this public meeting or if they are attending that funeral. Monica went her way and I went mine. There were times, of course, when she would not agree with some of my views on some issues. However, most of the time I could fully agree with her way of thinking. It was a unique experience to serve with somebody like that in politics. It is a lesson to those who are thinking of coming into politics. They do not have to wear a banner around their necks. They can enter politics and say what they truly believe. If a candidate truly believes in something, he or she does not need a manifesto to knock on a door. People should say what they believe in. That is what Monica did. The best tribute I can pay to her is that she is the best example of somebody who stood up and said what she believed. Sometimes I did not agree with her but most of the time she had a way that I had to agree with her. I have to admit that as - at that time - a youngish, conservative-type candidate, I learned an awful lot from her. I learned that I had to be a bit liberal in this country and in this day and age. I extended my liberalism way beyond where I thought I would.
Monica made a huge contribution to Irish public life.
We need people like that, people who can change opinion by truly believing in a way of life. She is a great loss even though she had retired. The time I went over to her and asked her if she would come out of retirement, she thought about it and said she would. Lo and behold she stood and got re-elected. She was just unique. Very few people could do that. She had retired and she said she would stand again. She went her way and I went my way and she got elected. People often ask if there is a formula to get elected. The formula I learned from Monica was to be oneself and say what one truly believes in. May she rest in peace.
Is mór an trua dom comhbhrón a dhéanamh le clann Paddy Harte, go háirithe lena bhean chéile agus le Jimmy Harte. Is mór an trua dom freisin comhbhrón ó chroí a dhéanamh le teaghlach, le cairde agus le comhghleacaithe Monica Barnes. Táim an-bhródúil as a bheith ag leanúint i gcoiscéim Mhonica; mar Teachta do dháilcheantar Dhún Laoghaire agus mar bhean.
Monica Barnes was a great friend and mentor. She was a formidable politician, who fought for women's rights throughout her life. She was elected to this House in November 1982. It is easy now, 18 years into the 21st century to forget the Ireland of 1982, 36 years ago, when Monica first entered the Dáil. Then, she was a shining light within a small group of progressives in a conservative party.
Monica Barnes became politicised leaving Mass one Sunday in the 1960s. She bought a copy of Chains of Changea pamphlet published by the Women's Liberation Movement. She became active in the second wave feminist movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. She was involved with the Council for the Status of Women and merged feminist politics with party politics when she joined Fine Gael in the early 1970s. She was one of a number of feminist women who joined the party because of its vision for a just society.
She was one of two Fine Gael Deputies to vote against inserting the eighth amendment into the Constitution in 1983. She was quoted in the Sunday Tribunein 1983:
I decided I could only compromise myself up to a certain point. Women were the reason I was involved at all.
If I kept quiet, as far as I was concerned, I was redundant as a politician.
She received hate mail and verbal and physical abuse for her stance.
She supported divorce in 1985. She regularly spoke on women's rights in the Dáil and was Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Women's Rights from 1989 to 1992. In 1992, she famously wanted to put on the Dáil record her opposition to the fact that only party leaders and thus only men were able to make statements on the X case. On 18 February 1992 the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, stood in Dáil Éireann to outline details on Ireland’s injunction of a 14 year old girl. He was followed by a brief statement from each Opposition leader. As the Chair called time two Deputies from the backbenches rose to their feet - two of the 13 women who made up a Parliament of 166. Before both were ruled out of order, Monica Barnes remarked:
May I comment on behalf of the women of Ireland and the women in this forum who have been excluded from making statements on this issue, that this is a reflection of the exclusion of women in all structures of our society.
When the Leas-Cheann Comhairle stated it was not a point of order, Madeleine Taylor-Quinn said that it was a protest, but the House moved on.
In an interview earlier this year Monica cheerfully admitted that Fine Gael’s old guard considered her a pain in the behind - I have slightly changed the quote. She also said:
I did not get elected to the Dáil after all those years of working for women to sell them out.
I had to stand up for women, and for the health and the future of women, that’s where I was in 1983.
In that year she voted against the eighth amendment. It is appropriate that we recognise her in the year when we repealed it. She was an outspoken advocate for women's rights and on occasion expressed disappointment and anger over issues dealing with women.
Speaking in a Dáil committee in November 2001, Monica succinctly summarised her own outlook and role in public life:
I cannot emphasise enough that this country undermines and denies women's rights and status. This is not polemic and I am not making a political point. It is a personal, female perspective. I speak on behalf of half the population.
Monica spoke for the marginalised and excluded, often at a time when it was easier to stay silent. She always spoke her mind. Her life was dedicated to campaigning and fighting for the rights of those who did not have a voice in the Ireland of the time.
As was mentioned, she was a member of the Women's Parliamentary Caucus right up to her death. She had attended and contributed wholeheartedly to the latest meeting held here in the House.
The Irish Timesonce captured her with a headline that read "Propelled by principle". Monica's principles helped to propel this country to a better place. My deepest sympathies go to her husband Bob, daughter Sarah, granddaughter Ailbhe who is here, daughter Joanne and her extended family. Is mian liom comhbhrón a dhéanamh lena fear céile Bob, a hiníonacha Sarah agus Joanne, a gariníon Ailbhe, agus a teaghlach uilig. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.
Tugaim aitheantas don dhá theaghlach, teaghlach Barnes agus teaghlach Harte, atá linn inniu. Déanaim comhbhrón le teaghlach uilig Harte agus le teaghlach uilig Barnes as a gcailleadh ollmhór.
I acknowledge both families who are present. I do not want to go over ground that has already been commented on. My former colleague Paddy Harte was the standard-bearer for Fine Gael in my constituency for over three decades. I want to talk about the legacy he has left and impact he had on County Donegal. I contacted a number of former party stalwarts in the past week to pick up snippets of the extent of his impact and a measure of his contribution over those years. It came back to his major legacy which was one as a grassroots politician who was very much in touch with his local organisation in the constituency and very much hands on.
His door was always open and was often opened by Rosaleen and his sons and daughters. The door was open not just from Monday to Friday, but was also open on Saturday and Sunday. I believe the door even opened to a constituent one Christmas Day. While it was a different time that access as a politician shows the type of politics we need to embrace because a politician who is not rubbing shoulder to shoulder with people or being with them is not in tune with their needs.
I want to acknowledge his contribution and his commitment to the preliminary work done in advance of the signing of the peace agreement in 1998. He was very hands-on in relation to the Anglo-Irish Agreement and was very much involved in Sunningdale as well. He took risks as a politician, was ahead of his time and had a major impact. We are reaping the rewards of his work through the peace dividend we enjoy today.
I also wish to refer to Paddy's oidhreacht, meaning his legacy and heritage, and his wonderful appreciation of all things related to Donegal, Raphoe and the north west. In later years he spoke in very strong terms about his connections and his upbringing. His legacy in taking risks is something that we, as politicians, cannot forget. We must embrace the lessons learned from politicians like him. He was willing to put the politics of ambition and risk to the fore on behalf of the next generation and worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that people had better opportunities. He had a deep understanding of difference. When I was involved in peace and reconciliation work, I saw at first hand his efforts to try to understand both traditions and to bring people with him at a time many were entrenched in their views and positions.
I am also reminded of the insightful old Irish seanfhocal that I came across in Connemara - castar na daoine ar a chéile, ach ní chastar na cnoic ná na sléibhte - it is the people who meet together, not the hills and the mountains. The hills and mountains always drew Paddy Harte back but his overarching ambition was to bring people together through a deeper understanding of one another. He did that in a way that has left an enormous and rich legacy for the people and politicians who followed him.
I also wish to acknowledge Ms Monica Barnes through the words of my party colleague, former Deputy, Olivia Mitchell. I did not serve in this House with Ms Barnes but my colleague summed her up for me in three words: passionate, inspirational and generous. She was generous with her time and displayed an immense generosity of spirit. As Deputy Mitchell O'Connor said earlier, her passion for social change was unwavering and it was great for her, in her later years, to see the social change for which she fought for so long come to pass.
Ba mhaith liom arís mo bhuíochas agus m'aitheantas a chur chuig an dá theaghlach fá choinne an tiomantas agus an gealltanas thar na blianta atá imithe thart, go háirithe an tiomantas chuig an chéad ghlúin eile.
Tá áthas orm deis labhartha a fháil anseo inniu chun ár ómós a léiriú agus a thaispeáint do chlann Paddy Harte agus do chlann Monica Barnes. Chaith mé tréimhse fhada anseo i gcomhar le Paddy Harte agus Monica Barnes. Bhí mé sa Dáil le Paddy ar feadh 16 bliana agus ar Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall leis ar feadh 12 bhliain. Ní raibh focal searbh idir an bheirt againn thar an tréimhse sin. Bhí Paddy ar taobh amháin agus mise ar an taobh eile, ach bhí caidreamh iontach eadrainn. Nuair a tháinig muid isteach anseo, bhíomar anseo mar Chonallaigh - seachas mar bhaill d'Fhianna Fáil nó Fine Gael - chun ár gcuid oibre a dhéanamh thar cionn na daoine i nDún na nGall a chuir muid anseo. Bhí ainm Paddy Harte fite fuaite le síocháin agus athmhuintearas, i bhfad sular cuireadh a leithéid ar bun go foirmeálta. Bhí Monica Barnes ag plé le cearta na mban ag an am céanna.
Paddy Harte was a great friend and a great Donegal representative for many years. I am delighted to acknowledge the presence of his wife, Rosaleen and his children, Paddy Jnr, Mary, Anne, Róisín, Garrett, Emmet, Eithne, and Johnny and not forgetting the former Senator, Jimmy Harte. I am sure I speak for everyone when I wish Jimmy continued progress and good health.
Paddy Harte was first elected in 1961 and held his seat until 1997. Therefore, for a short period in his later years here, he was father of the House. He took over from the late Neil Blaney, who died in 1995 and was highly respected. Not alone did he represent north-east Donegal, he also had the distinction of representing all of Donegal. Those of us who are old enough will remember that he was elected to represent the great constituency of Donegal in 1977. I was youngish at the time and not yet a member of the council. I remember meeting him at the Butt Hall at that famous count in 1977. I served with him on the council from 1979 until 1991. As I said in Irish earlier, there was never a sharp word between us through all of those years, which is the way it should be. I came with one party flag and Paddy Harte came with another but when we came to Dublin, we wore the Donegal jersey with pride and carried the Donegal flag. Of course, working together as Deputies makes us stronger.
Paddy Harte can be described as a committed politician, an advocate of justice and fairness and a true Donegal man. He never missed an opportunity to put issues affecting Donegal forward over the years and to make the case for further investment in our native county. I do not know what he would have to say now if he had to abide by the two-minute, seven-minute or ten-minute rule. One did not have to respect it in those days-----
When Paddy Harte spoke here, he spoke with both passion and commitment. He was always known in this House for his good counsel and advice. He was one for reaching out to others to advance different causes, not only in Leinster House but in practical ways and on many different occasions.
Paddy Harte, in both politics and private life, will be remembered for highlighting the importance of co-existence. He grew up and lived by the Border during the difficult years but he reached out. He was reaching out to unionists in Northern Ireland long before it became popular to do so. He took many risks over the years and promoted peace on the island of Ireland. As many have said, this was demonstrated by the opening of Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines. He did not just turn up on the famous day when it was opened by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, the Queen of England and the King of Belgium. He had been working on that project for years prior to the opening day. He initiated FÁS schemes through which people went out to Messines to build that monument. I was very honoured to be there as well on that famous day.
I must acknowledge Paddy Harte on a personal level, on my own behalf and that of my wife and her sister, whom he visited on many occasions over the years. That may not have been popular either. No one can say a bad word about the Harte family or Paddy Harte in my house or my wife's house. We will never, ever forget him. He went on radio one day and defended us when others thought it would be difficult to defend us. He said that he was not defending the indefensible, but defending the defensible. I was ever so grateful to him for that.
Paddy Harte leaves behind him a legacy that will stand the test of time and that will be favourably recorded when history is written. He always believed in sharing and had a great understanding of our joint heritage and history, which is as it should be.
He leaves a legacy of which Rosaleen, his family, his extended family and his grandchildren will be proud in the years to come.
Ó thaobh Monica Barnes d'oibrigh mé anseo léi chomh maith agus is cuimhin liom bean a d'oibrigh go dian agus go dícheall do chearta ban. Gúim gach rath Dé ar an mbeirt acu agus ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha uaisle, dílse.
I welcome both families.
In regard to the Barnes family, I had never met their mother, Monica, but I know from the tributes that have been presented that she was somebody her constituents were proud to call a local representative and whom her children were proud to call their mother. I am sure the pride they have in her is enhanced by what they have heard from her former colleagues and political representatives.
From my county, I welcome the family of the late Paddy Harte: his dear wife and Rosaleen and his nine children, Jimmy, Paddy, Garrett, Mary, Anne, Róisín, Eithne, Johnny and Emmet. There is no doubt that Paddy gave tremendous service to the constituency of Donegal North-East, serving from 1961 to 1997. It is clear from his family taking up that baton that Paddy's strong ethos of public service is carried on in his family, whether through politics, involvement in the media or a commitment to local community.
When I was growing up in Donegal and becoming politically conscious, Paddy Harte was one of the big names in the county, along with former Deputies Hugh Conaghan, Neil Blaney, the Coughlans, Jim McDaid and, of course, Deputy Gallagher. My grandfather, Willie Bradley from Dunree, an active party canvasser, knew him and canvassed for him. I am not sure how he would feel about his grandson, as a Fianna Fáil Deputy, paying tribute to Paddy Harte. On my first occasion in the Dáil, as a sixth-class primary school student on a school tour from Donegal, Paddy was the Deputy who hosted us, and I remember well meeting him at the front of Leinster House and being introduced by my principal, Sarah McDermott. The event was set up by a local councillor, Bernard McGuinness, who was working alongside him that day. I am not sure whether they always worked as hand in glove as they did on that occasion, but there is no doubt they did at that time. I remember it well and it was a tremendous experience which awakened and developed my interest in politics from that time on.
Having survived so many years in politics, particularly in Donegal politics, which is not easy, Paddy was not without craft. I remember one winter's night when I was still in school, a knock came to our front door, and it was Paddy Harte, who was apparently lost although I am not sure where he was going. We had a small, old-style country pub and shop that has since closed, and the next house over the road was another McConalogues', which happened to be a pub also. It was linked to Fine Gael and Paddy used to go there but he managed to get himself lost that night and rocked up to the door wondering where the other McConalogue pub was. The conclusion in the McConalogue household that night was that it was a cute move by Paddy to see whether my mother still held any links to her father's Fine Gael allegiances. He was innocently given directions to the pub down the road and was none the wiser as to the main mission we had concluded he was on.
Paddy served at a time when politics was quite different, before social media. The commitment level was just as high but in a different way from now. Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned the trip up and down to Donegal and, although the road is difficult now, when Paddy was doing it, prior to all the bypasses that were built in the past number of years, whether in Carrickmacross, Castleblayney or Ardee, it was certainly a much more arduous journey.
His great contribution was the development of the Island of Ireland Peace Park in West Flanders, and its opening a year after Paddy finished working as a politician in 1998 was a strong commitment of his which displayed the type of politician he was, working closely with Glen Barr in achieving it. He was very much ahead of his time in his acknowledging the role and memory of the many Irish people who had died in the First World War.
For a man who spent 35 years in politics, he very much enjoyed his retirement and did not give any outward display of missing politics. On the occasions I met him, he seemed interested in history and his pastimes, and heavily involved with his family. He continued to be outgoing and happy, and I know it was important to him and his family that his last days were spent in Lifford hospital, to which he had a strong affinity and commitment over the years. Notwithstanding his great legacy of 35 years as a politicians and his strong work on behalf of the people of Donegal, it was clear at his funeral that his greatest legacy was that of his nine children and 24 grandchildren. The pride which they all showed in him that day was representative of the pride he in turn had in all of them, and it is great to have them in attendance today. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
We women like to get the last word and, therefore, I thank the Ceann Comhairle.
I share in the expressions of sympathy for the late, great Paddy Harte. It is my misfortune that I did not get to know him properly but, given the words that have been expressed, it is clear he was a great son, husband, father, grandfather and a tremendous asset to the country and politics. I share in the expressions of sympathy to his family, who are present.
As a Dún Laoghaire Deputy who has done clinics every Saturday for the past decade, for which I hope I am not taking a retrograde step, it is with great pride that I pay tribute to the late Monica Barnes, who was a real trailblazer. When I consider what a privilege it is for me to be sitting as a Member of the House, I know I am here because of the great work and courage of women like Monica Barnes who came before me and laid down the strong foundations for us to be here today.
Monica was always admired in the house in which I grew up, which was also full of strong, liberal women who outnumbered my father on many occasions. Owing to her party and the woman she was in principle, she was greatly respected and honoured not only in my house but in Dún Laoghaire. When Monica was first elected to the House in 1982 to represent the people of Dún Laoghaire, she also represented women the length and breadth of the island. She represented us all with fire, dignity and grace. She was committed to the idea of a fair and just society, and used her time in this House and the Seanad to advance women's rights in Ireland in all forms. She was the forerunner of the wonderful, strong, articulate, capable women who sit in the Oireachtas today. The women of Ireland have a duty and onus to keep that flag flying, whether in equal pay, healthcare, childcare or many other areas where Monica started the journey.
Monica did the work she did in the House and outside of it because she believed it was the right thing to do. She stood her ground and fought for what she believed to be right. It may not have been the easy route to take many a time, but she made no apology for it, and her strong legacy lives on. My hope, which I hope is shared by all of us, is that history will never forget the great courage, compassion and wisdom of this great lady, and that we in the House can be inspired by her strong determination to do justice to those who elect us. I express my strong sympathy to Monica's family, who are in attendance.