Seanad debates

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy


4:00 pm

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)

It is rather sad in a way to say goodbye to Joe Sherlock. I, like the Leader, have happy memories of him in Leinster House. He was a good, committed, regular contributor in this House and he always had a twinkle in his eye. I seem to remember him smoking a pipe. Perhaps I am wrong but I have an image of him fiddling with the pipe with his eyes twinkling away while he made a sharp, perceptive comment. He was a man who was involved in the republican movement but he saw the light and opted for democratic politics. He was in Sinn Féin the Workers' Party and he was one of the architects of the move on the left that united the Workers' Party and the Labour Party. Shortly after he was elected as both the first and only representative of Sinn Féin the Workers' Party in 1981, he said he hoped there would be a realignment of the left and that both parties would work in closer harmony.

He was an honest, decent man of the soil. He started life as an agricultural labourer and he had a lovely, easy swing of a walk along the corridors of Leinster House that marked him as somebody from a rural background, as my own people were, and I always liked that about him. He was loyal to north Cork. He fought for Mallow hospital and the sugar beet industry in which he had been employed. He will be missed but he was extremely proud at the close of his political career that his son, Seán, was elected to succeed him. I met Seán recently in the corridors and I asked him whether he was one of the new Members. When he told me who he was, I was very pleased to shake his hand and say I remembered his father with great affection. He will be a distinguished representative.

When I told my colleagues in the office that we were having expressions of sympathy on the death of Joe Sherlock and I had been asked to say a few words about him, everybody, including the secretarial staff, commented on what a decent, nice man he was. That is a rather good tribute. On behalf of the Independent Members, I offer my sympathy to his wife, Ellen and his children, Úna, Joseph and Sean, who has followed him into the world of politics.


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