Seanad debates

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy


5:00 pm

Photo of Michael McCarthyMichael McCarthy (Labour)

I rise to pay tribute to the late Joe Sherlock, former Deputy, Senator and councillor. I had the experience and privilege of serving on Cork County Council with the late Deputy Sherlock, as did Senators Callanan and Bradford. I quickly became very much aware of his true devotion and vocation in life, which was to be in politics to represent those who are less well-off than others.

Joe Sherlock was first elected to Mallow Urban District Council in 1967 and it was not until 1974 that he won his council seat. He kept contesting election after election to become the sole Sinn Féin the Workers' Party Deputy in Dáil Éireann in 1981. With that election came significant responsibility as there was much political instability at the time. A Government headed by the late Charles Haughey depended very much on his support and it was not easy for somebody without the resources of a modern day parliament and a large party to represent his constituents and chart a path in public life which was very cognisant of the political instability of the day.

His political career spanned over five decades and my experience of Joe Sherlock was that if he had an issue, or a bone, he would chew on it. Senator Callanan repeated the mantra that we heard so often on Cork County Council, "By Christ, Chairman". The officials stood up and listened at that stage. If they did not, there was a "By Christ, Chairman" statement before the fortnight was out. By Christ, the results were obtained.

His political path took him from Sinn Féin to The Workers' Party to the Labour Party. He was always a beacon of representation for left-of-centre politics. His trade union background ensured he was always in the broader Labour family and he was always associated with those who were less well-off. He deplored pomp, officialdom and ceremony.

I was not aware he smoked a pipe but smoke may have come from his famous temper rather than from a pipe. When the merger of the Labour Party and Democratic Left took place in the 1990s, there were two Dáil candidates in Cork East, John Mulvihill in Cobh and Joe Sherlock in Mallow. Both had held that Dáil seat on occasion and when they clashed swords on Cork County Council, by Christ there was much smoke.

It was an honour to serve on Cork County Council with Joe Sherlock and it certainly was an experience. We will never see another public representative like him. He kept fighting elections until he was successful and he kept fighting on behalf of his constituents until he obtained results for them. Ultimately, Joe Sherlock will be known for public service and his commitment to the people of north-east Cork. First and foremost he was a Kildorrery man loyal to his constituents and constituency. I extend my sympathy and that of other Members to his family.

It is a great source of pride to the Sherlock family that Seán is taking up the mantle in Dáil Éireann. It is a great monument to Joe Sherlock's memory that his son now holds that Dáil seat in Cork East. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


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