Thursday, 11 July 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join colleagues in sending my sympathies and condolences to the families and friends of Brendan Grace and Noel Whelan. In recent years, Noel was a great support and showed me a huge amount of kindness and encouragement right back to 2015 when he contacted me about my two daughters and a campaign video they did for the same-sex marriage referendum. We had numerous communications subsequently. He also facilitated some of the most memorable occasions I have had in the past few years when I visited Wexford. The memories are quite surreal. Funnily enough, one of them relates to a lunch with Brendan Grace. I am sure Brendan Grace would have some sort of dark joke about the fact that I sat down with him and Noel Whelan for dinner this time last year. It was lovely to be able to sit in their company and it is lovely to remember them that way. When I met Brendan last year, I was immediately attracted to the good-natured boldness in him. I wish we had got to know each other a lot more, but it was a pleasure to sit and have dinner with Noel and Brendan together last year. It is a nice memory and it was my privilege to know two Irish icons in different areas, one in music and comedy and the other in the political and democratic realm. I send my condolences to each of their families, especially Brendan's son-in-law, who has also been in contact with me in recent days. He was not only a son-in-law to Brendan but an extremely close friend to him. The two of them were inseparable last year in Wexford and they seemed to really look after each other. I will be thinking today of Frank, who texted me this morning to say that Brendan had admired my strength and determination in life. That was a really nice thing to hear from such a wonderful man.