Tuesday, 7 October 2003
Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy.
On behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party and of the House, I wish to express our sympathy on the sad death of Lady Valerie Goulding. She was a very distinguished Senator from 1977, when she was appointed by the then Taoiseach, Mr. Jack Lynch, as one of his nominees to Seanad Éireann. She served in this House until August 1981. I am conscious that the Cathaoirleach came into the Seanad with Lady Goulding and I am sure he will have something to say about her.
All of us in this country have a memory of Lady Valerie Goulding. We remember her energy and commitment and the way she tackled causes, in particular those of the disadvantaged. In the 1950s and early 1960s when Lady Goulding started that crusade, not many people rallied to her cause or looked at the causes of disadvantage. She came from a privileged background and was a person of means, but, nevertheless, she dealt directly with young people who, in the main, suffered physical handicap. She went on to work with others who had varying degrees of handicap.
I met Lady Valerie Goulding on several occasions and remember being very impressed by her common sense approach. She had a very fine way of speaking, which could sometimes put one off, but when one spoke to her about the causes she espoused, one saw how her drive and determination would put to one side all the bureaucratic delays put in front of her. I have no doubt that her fine manner and the way she expressed herself brushed aside many a civil servant who in his or her day tried to put obstacles in the way of her very fine work. I can imagine her saying: "That is just nonsense, we are going to go ahead with A, B, C, D"– and she did so. Her fine way was truly remarkable.
Lady Goulding stood for the Fianna Fáil Party in a general election and gathered a very respectable vote. However, it was her abiding desire to work with people of disadvantage that imprinted itself on many minds. Schools regularly ask politicians to talk to their students as they start their year. I was in a secondary school recently and asked the pupils if they had ever heard of Lady Valerie Goulding. More than half the class had heard of her, which was remarkable. They did not know I was going to ask them that, although her name had been in the newspapers because she had recently passed away.
I join with the Leader in paying tribute to the life and times of Lady Valerie Goulding. The obituary in The Irish Times on the Saturday following her death during the summer bore the headline, "An Aristocrat Who Did Something with Her Life", which caught the essence of Lady Goulding. It would have been easier for Lady Valerie Goulding and many other women in her position growing up in Britain and Ireland in the 1920s and 1930s not to engage with marginalised people and do something for them. Lady Goulding used her position in life and her influence to help those who were struggling. The Central Remedial Clinic in Clontarf is the most vivid example of this. I am originally from Clontarf and I witnessed the development of the CRC which assists, on a daily basis, people with physical disabilities. That facility was developed as a result of Lady Goulding's determination, courage and skill and we will always remember her for that.
Lady Valerie Goulding was involved not only in Irish politics, but also in British politics. Her late father was a significant Tory Minister and legal adviser to Edward VIII as he involved himself with the then abdication negotiations with Stanley Baldwin, the then Prime Minister. Lady Goulding described in her biography how she ferried messages between Prime Minister Baldwin and Edward VIII. She was intricately involved in British and Irish politics. It was an inspired choice for Jack Lynch to appoint her to the Seanad in 1977 in order that her contribution could be recognised.
Something I admire greatly about Lady Valerie Goulding is that she never rewrote history. She remained to the day she died a great supporter of Charles J. Haughey. When others cast him off, she remained loyal to him. That was a sign of her character, loyalty and great fidelity. Charles J. Haughey gave her considerable assistance to establish the CRC and she repaid him with her support. She was a tremendous person and woman in her own right and those lucky enough to have served with her in this House will cherish her memory. Long may her memory continue alive and well in this House.
I support the sentiments expressed by Senators O'Rourke and Brian Hayes. I did not know Lady Goulding well and did not serve with her in this House. She was a family friend so I knew her when I was younger. She was a unique person. As Senators O'Rourke and Brian Hayes said, she was a British aristocrat who came here and embraced the country with open arms. Instead of apologising for her background, which many in her situation did at the time, she took up the cudgel in the most effective way she could.
It may have been an accident that she became a politician. She took up the cause of the handicapped and used her position to do good for other people. That is somewhat unique these days among the privileged. One of her great talents was her ability to lobby on behalf of the Central Remedial Clinic. She managed to lobby politicians effectively in that regard. Nominated to this House by Jack Lynch in 1977, she was a precursor of a type of nominee of great and independent mind and she used her position ruthlessly for the causes in which she believed. It was to her credit that she managed to straddle the divide between Jack Lynch's time as Taoiseach and Charles J. Haughey's time as Taoiseach. In spite of their differences, she was re-nominated and approved by both leaders of Fianna Fáil because they saw great merit in what she was doing, which is a great tribute to her.
It is also a great tribute to her independence of mind and immense courage in the face of opinions that might have discouraged her from doing so that, despite her background, she joined the most unlikely party she could have joined. It was an extraordinary decision, but it is a great tribute to her that she did so as it was most unlikely, considering her roots. She made a further decision, which showed she was a woman of great conviction, when she converted to become a member of the Roman Catholic Church. That was a sign of great independence and individualism and we are lucky that Lady Goulding was one of those who set the tone for the appointment of people of similar mind to this House in the 25 years since her appointment. I express my sympathy to her family and friends because we have a lost a woman who was unique in Irish public life.
Is trua nach raibh aon cheangal pearsanta idir mé féin agus Lady Valerie Goulding riamh. However, despite not meeting her as she had left the House before I joined and despite the fact that I lived in Cork, I, like half the country, felt I knew her, which is a commentary on the woman's calibre. She represented a progressive voice in terms of how our country would be built for people who at the time were virtually invisible. She did so at a time when there were great difficulties in politics as we faced a serious economic crisis, yet she was one of those who sustained in the public mind the view that those on the margins were important and deserved a service, whether Ireland was rich or poor.
For people such as myself, who were looking on from a distance, she gave great evidence of the capacity of one person with conviction to make a difference. It is a lesson worth repeating that in a free society such as ours, a person of conviction similar to Lady Valerie Goulding can make a difference and leave a legacy in the form of the services she initiated from which so many people in Ireland benefited. On behalf of the Labour Party I would like to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to her family.
On behalf of the Progressive Democrats Party, I join in the tribute to Lady Valerie Goulding. It is right that the House should mark her passing. It is extraordinary that somebody who came from a high Tory family and a position of privilege and whose father, Viscount Monckton, was a Minister in the British Government, was able to marry that privilege to a need. Her privileged background gave her access that otherwise might not have been available, but it is remarkable that somebody of her stature should have had a deep and abiding interest in underprivileged people who had been badly injured and hurt. The achievement of establishing the Central Remedial Clinic stands most remarkably to her memory. Similar achievements are taken for granted nowadays, but for a woman to have established such a clinic at that time leads one to believe that she must have been a formidable lady, although she was also a great lady.
She met her husband at Fairyhouse races in the late 1930s and her family had a great connection with racing and the arts. The Goulding family and Lady Goulding, in particular, have left a significant mark on Irish life, which has been greatly of benefit to the nation and reflects extraordinarily well on her.
I would like to associate myself with the remarks about Lady Valerie Goulding that have been well made by other Senators. She restored real meaning to the title of "Lady" and to the terms "courtesy", "dependability" and "compassion and regard for others". She was one of the people who caused the foundation of the Ireland Fund and I knew her quite well through that organisation. She remained a member of the fund's committee until her death.
I met her at a meeting towards the end of May, when she was as alive and alert as ever. She was deeply interested in what was going on in the North. Somehow one could see, in her willingness to meet people and to act as an intermediary between different groups and classes of people, the spirit of the teenager who carried messages during the abdication crisis in the UK.
Her greatest monument in this country is the Central Remedial Clinic and the work that continues to be done there. She called attention to the needs of those who use the clinic. She rolled up her sleeves and started to work to help people. The best tribute that can be earned by anybody in public life is that they made life better, even for a small number of people. This is particularly true in respect of a group of people that had been disregarded or devalued by society until that time.
The former Taoiseach, Mr. Jack Lynch, demonstrated wonderful imagination in nominating her to the Seanad in the first instance. She exemplified the sort of person Yeats had in mind when he spoke of the original Seanad and the function of this House. I hope the sub-committee examining the future of the Seanad will bear in mind the contribution made by people like Lady Valerie Goulding. Room should be left for the nomination of such people in the future.
It is a great privilege for me to have worked in the centre that was established by Lady Valerie Goulding in 1951. Along with her great friend, Kathleen O'Rourke, who was also a physiotherapist, she set about establishing a clinic in the humble beginnings of a one-room flat in Pembroke Street. That clinic has since become the Central Remedial Clinic.
Lady Goulding was involved with the clinic in many of the years I worked there, when her health was good. I saw at first hand her commitment, drive and compassion. She focused on doing as much as possible for children with physical disabilities, based on the need identified by her and her band of volunteers, friends and others she dragged along with her, as she was well capable of doing. I believe she decided to establish the Central Remedial Clinic and to put in place the services it offers today after she saw the anguish and concern of parents at first hand. The centre in Clontarf, which is internationally recognised, caters for the educational, medical and therapeutic needs of children with physical disabilities. Lady Goulding was the real and only motivator in that regard.
It was a privilege for me to have known her in another guise as I had the privilege of driving her around in two Seanad campaigns. I assure those who think I got my political rounding in Drumcondra that I got it driving around the country with Lady Goulding during the Seanad campaigns. I suppose my experience at that time is part of the reason I am here today.
Lady Goulding has left a wonderful legacy in the Central Remedial Clinic, which has over 400 clients and almost 300 workers today. When Members of the House leave the face of the earth, we will have done a great job if we leave a tenth of the legacy of Lady Goulding. She showed a great deal of kindness and compassion to people who are less well off than ourselves. She is much missed by all clients, particularly the children in the clinic. The staff of the clinic knew and loved her well and miss her dearly. May she rest in peace
I would like to be associated with the tributes that have been paid to the former Senator, Lady Valerie Goulding. I am the only Senator present who was privileged to serve with her in the House. I was elected to the Seanad in 1977 when she was appointed by the Taoiseach, Deputy Jack Lynch. She made valuable contributions, as one might expect. As a young English girl from a very conservative background, she made her home in Ireland and embraced Irish citizenship. She proved her independence when she became a Roman Catholic.
At her funeral I listened to Father Farnan paying tribute to Lady Goulding and saying she could easily have led a life of indulgence and spent her time beside a swimming pool in the south of France. However, that was not her way. She and her great friend, Kathleen O'Rourke, identified a need and so was born the Central Remedial Clinic. She has left a great legacy in that clinic.
Lady Goulding was a wonderful person who worked for the underprivileged. I was delighted to serve in the Seanad with her from 1977 until 1981. I expressed my sympathy to her family at her funeral and I repeat that expression of sympathy now.
It was with great sadness that members of my party learned of Mr. Bernard Markey's death over the summer, not only because of his contribution to politics in the Fine Gael Party and in County Louth but also because he died, at a relatively young age, in his early 60s. We join other colleagues in expressing our sympathy to his wife, Anne, his daughter, Tara, and the extended Markey family on his untimely passing.
Bernard Markey was a liberal politician long before it became fashionable. He took a stand on difficult issues in the 1970s and 1980s. I have great sympathy for the politicians who fought three general elections in the early 1980s – I think the Leader was one of them.
Bernard Markey fought three general elections in the space of 18 months. He won two and lost one. He lost the general election in November 1982 and so spent only a short period in the Dáil. He was a Senator from 1973 until the 1980s and made a distinguished contribution to this House. He was also a member of Louth County Council for 28 years and retired from that body in 1999.
He was deeply rooted in his native Ardee, in the western part of County Louth and in the GAA. He was passionate about his local team and Louth football. He played for County Louth in the 1950s, which was probably not difficult.
I join Senator Brian Hayes in paying tribute to the late Mr. Bernard Markey. I was a member of the Seanad from February to November 1982 when he served in Dáil Éireann and I had several conversations with him. I did not fight those three general elections. I was contesting Seanad elections at that time. I recall having a conversation with him in the corridor during which we spoke about politics. He had very interesting observations to make. I was struck by his commitment and devotion to his home town of Ardee, of which he spoke lovingly and vehemently. As Senator Brian Hayes said, he was also very much on the liberal wing of Fine Gael, which must have been difficult given the many causes he espoused. Some of them were very difficult to speak about.
He retired from public life as a Member of the Oireachtas at a reasonably young age. He was under 50 when he did so and decided he would continue with his county council work and involvement in public affairs. He was hugely interested in his constituents and in representing them fairly and fully, and to that end he devoted considerable time. On behalf of my party, I pay tribute to his years of service in public office and join with Senator Brian Hayes in sympathising with his family.
None of the Independent Senators has had the pleasure of working with or being a colleague of the late Senator and Deputy, Bernard Markey, but we would like to join in the expressions of sympathy to his family and recognise his years of commitment to public life and his work as a public representative for Louth, the broader constituency he represented in this House and his home town.
I was in the House for a period when Bernard Markey was a Senator. To be described as a liberal in the times he served as a Senator and a Deputy was not a great political asset and required courage and conviction. I recall the phrase, "the forces of evil", being used to describe us collectively at one stage, and it took considerable courage to be of that mind in any political party at that time. I do not wish to suggest otherwise.
It is tragic to see somebody who had such energy, conviction and interest in so many areas die at such a comparatively young age. It reminds us that what we do in politics is worth doing now because we do not know how much time the Lord will give us. It is wonderful for Bernard Markey's family to know that things were done by him which would not otherwise have been done by anybody else, and that issues were raised and constituents were looked after. We, in the Labour Party, would like to be associated with the remarks that have been made and with the sympathy extended to his family.
I was slightly acquainted with Bernard Markey. He was a man of conviction and could make one aware of his views in fairly positive and well-argued terms. It is obvious that he served the needs of his constituents in Louth and his party colleagues in Fine Gael loyally and well over a very extended period. His having served for 28 years on the county council is quite a noteworthy achievement. He made a significant contribution to national life. On behalf of the Progressive Democrats I would like to be associated with the vote of sympathy to his wife, daughter and party colleagues.
I would also like to be associated with the vote of sympathy on the death of the former Senator and Deputy, Bernard Markey, with whom I served in the Seanad. We often had conversations on GAA matters. He was a fairly good footballer in the 1950s. Senator Brian Hayes should note that Louth won the All-Ireland Football Championship in 1957—
We have a third former Member to mourn. Some in the Visitors Gallery may consider we are spending a long time on this, but it is correct that we make expressions of sympathy in respect of former Members who have passed on. I did not know of former Senator Louis Walsh, therefore I had to rely on what I could find. He served two terms in the Seanad. He was a solicitor and was elected to the House in 1954 on the cultural and educational panel. He was defeated in 1957 but was nominated in that same electoral period by the then Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, until he vacated his seat in November 1961 when he was appointed county registrar in County Donegal by the Government headed by Mr. de Valera. On his appointment to the Seanad by Éamon de Valera he was also appointed Leader of the House.
He leaves a family of two sons and two daughters and we pass our sympathy to them, remembering that for them he was the most important person in their life. I meant to research some of the Seanad debates in which he was involved but faltered through lack of time. However, I found four or five contributions by him, concerned with legal and justice Bills and educational matters, as would have befitted his profession and the panel on which he became a Member.
We express our sympathy on the passing of the late Senator to his two sons and two daughters, who are all serving in professions in this country. May he rest in peace.
I join with the Leader in paying tribute to former Senator Walsh who died recently. He lived to a great age. His membership of this House in the 1950s is a reminder of another generation. He made a significant contribution to the House, particularly on justice matters. On behalf of my colleagues I extend our sympathy to the Walsh family. Long may his memory remain in the House for his contribution both here and to Fianna Fáil.
On behalf of my Independent colleagues I express our condolences to the family, friends and acquaintances of former Senator Louis Walsh who, were he still living, would have had some wonderful tales to tell back to the 1950s. I did not know him but we have heard a story of a public servant who ended his life in public service as the county registrar in Donegal, which is a rare path to take. I join with everybody in paying tribute to him.
It is a reminder to us all of how quickly life passes that we are paying tribute to somebody nominated to this House by Éamon de Valera. The fact that somebody had a long and, I hope, fruitful life after his political career in this House does not detract from what we have been told, that Senator Walsh was an active and prominent Member of the House and a serious and thoughtful contributor. We in the Labour Party pay tribute to his contribution and his long life and with our colleagues we extend our sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues, especially in Fianna Fáil, who have lost a stalwart.
On behalf of the Progressive Democrats, I join in the vote of sympathy on the passing of the former Senator, Louis Walsh, express our sympathy to his sons and daughters and record the national contribution he made to politics and the legal profession in which he was someone of long standing. As county registrar for Donegal he played a key role in the legal life of the county. It is appropriate that the Seanad should mark his passing. We extend our sympathy to his family and party colleagues.
I wish to speak briefly because I am from the North and Louis Walsh was a Derry man. When he was elected to the House, he already had a considerable career behind him and had been very active in his early days. I think he was even in the Sinn Féin courts in east Derry. He was very active in political, cultural and other affairs in Derry and Antrim. He was a very cultured man who wrote movingly and kindly in a memoir of his early life which is worth reading. I too wish to be associated with the tributes to him and the sympathy to his family.
I also wish to be associated with the tributes to the former Senator Walsh. He must have been a wonderful man as described by Senator Maurice Hayes. He must also have had a long life considering that it is almost 60 years since he was first elected to the House. I convey my sympathy to his family on his passing. We will now stand as a mark of respect.