Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy
Alex White (Labour)
On behalf of the Labour Party, it is a sad honour to pay tribute to my late colleague, Joe Sherlock, a former Member of both Houses of the Oireachtas. As previous speakers said, Joe served for many years in public life and he gave strong public service throughout his career. He was a deeply principled man who was truly dedicated to the people of Mallow and east Cork. Like many of his generation, he did not have an easy upbringing. He worked hard from a young age, initially on local farms and then in Mallow sugar factory. He had a passion for all things Cork and all things local. Mallow hospital and the sugar factory played significant roles in his contributions over many years and I recall, when I worked in the media, the very effective campaign he led to retain services in Mallow hospital, which are still there today.
At an early age, Joe became involved in the trade union movement and he then took the political path. He was a true republican who was proud of his country. He recognised at an early age, as a member of a generation of republicans of that era, the need for effective political change. He moved with the times and was proud ultimately to serve as a Deputy for the Labour Party.
Joe was famous for the passion with which he spoke and for his particular style of oration. People tended to listen to him regardless of whether they agreed with his argument, because they knew his words came from the heart. He was impatient with bureaucracy and became frustrated when progress was not sufficiently speedy. As public representatives, we are all aware of the frustration of awaiting a return telephone call or written response. He had a fiery temper and could occasionally deliver a sharp-edged response. He used that fieriness to great effect to get his point across. Inevitably, however, he quickly returned to his courteous self. This is the person Senator Norris and others have called to mind today.
Joe Sherlock's political career began with his election to Mallow Urban District Council. He often reminded people that he was first elected in 1967 with 110 votes. Few elections are won these days with only 110 votes.