Seanad debates

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy


5:00 pm

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Green Party)

I am pleased to join in the expressions of sympathy for a person who was not only a former Member of both Houses but also a Cork man. I attended many political events with Joe Sherlock in the Cork area. He was a person recognised for his assiduousness as a constituency worker in view of his involvement in campaigns such as those relating to Mallow General Hospital and to the sugar factory in Mallow. He was also associated with the workforce in Mitchelstown Co-operative. Mallow was where he built his political base but he was well known throughout north-east Cork, in towns such as Mitchelstown and Fermoy. Senator Bradford knows Cork East is a constituency with a broad reach, stretching from Roches Point to Buttevant. Anyone contesting that constituency must make themselves widely known throughout its length and breadth. Part of Joe Sherlock's achievement was that he did so successfully.

As Members observed, his 40 years of unbroken public service is a notable milestone. Other speakers have outlined his political journey. He was first elected as a member of the then Sinn Féin Party, which became Sinn Féin the Workers' Party. He was elected as the first Deputy for that party in 1981. It subsequently became the Workers' Party and then Democratic Left, which ultimately merged with the Labour Party. What historians might consider political inconsistency was, in Joe Sherlock's case — and in the case of many others — a natural progression.

I must confess I was part of a conspiracy that saw Joe Sherlock become a Member of this House. He, along with two Progressive Democrats Senators, made history in February 1993 by becoming the first members of a non-traditional party to be directly elected to this House. This came about as a result of an electoral arrangement between the Progressive Democrats, Democratic Left and the Green Party. I was the fifth leg of that particular arrangement, having been deposited on the cultural and educational panel without being told I would need three times as many votes as I received. I nonetheless managed to quadruple the Green Party's tally in that election.


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